Clam Chowder Has Been Around A Lot Longer Than You Might Have Thought

If you're someone who loves warming up on a cold day with a bowl of clam chowder or enjoying a cup as a complement to a sandwich, you're far from alone in those regards (via Farmers' Almanac). As it turns out, you might actually come from a very long line of people who enjoyed doing the same as the dish far predates your existence.

The rich tapestry of clam chowder includes at least four different types. There are restaurants on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts that are well-known for their offerings across all varieties, as Restaurant Guru lists. The United States might have a strong argument for being the clam chowder capital of the world but like with much of American cooking, the influences of this dish came from an ocean away.

Culture Trip credits the British and French for bringing clam chowder to the North American continent. That legacy stretches back quite far in most chowder lovers' family trees, too.

Chowder predates the United States

As far as the New England style of chowder is concerned, the story goes that the dish was introduced when the associated area was still literally New England. Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover's Companion to New York City claims British and French settlers introduced the style now eponymous with the region in the early 18th century. What's Cooking America explains that the dish became popular and the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the U.S., Ye Olde Union Oyster House, had it on the menu by 1836.

So what about Manhattan style? That's an American classic, as What's Cooking America lays out. In the middle of the 19th century, Italian immigrants in New York and Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island were using a tomato base for their chowders. The rise of that type of chowder actually caused somewhat of an uproar. In 1939, the New England Historical Society says a Maine legislator actually drafted a bill to ban the sale of Manhattan clam chowder in the state.

There's no need to worry if you're in Maine and enjoying some chowder Manhattan style, though. The bill never became law (per the New England Historical Society) and serving all kinds of chowder remains legal across the country today. It should probably be illegal to freeze clam chowder without reading this first, though.

Whether you prefer Manhattan or New England, your preference might be in your heredity. Chowder goes back to the days when men were treating their wigs with powder.