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A New England Symbol: Colonists and Clambakes

The clam did save our fathers brave

All through the first years of our nation

'Twas clams they say in Plymouth Bay

Did serve to keep them from starvation.

                              -Excerpt from "The Clam" by Boulder

Though early colonists ate clams only in the leanest of times, present-day Americans often hail the shellfish as an iconic food of our forefathers. In the common mythology of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, the clam appears on the table surrounded by turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberries. In fact, the clam was incorporated into this myth by a group of men in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1767, who threw a "Founder’s Day" feast featuring clams. Despite this historical inaccuracy, the clam has become a nostalgic symbol in the modern imagination of the simple Puritan life, and the pioneering New England spirit.

 Select the images below to learn more.

 Thanksgiving Dinner  Melville Clam Bakes Boston Harbor


Proceed to A New England Symbol: Frying the Clam.

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A New England Symbol: Colonists and Clambakes