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The Defunct Restaurant That Brought Fried Clam Strips To The World
Though fried clams have been there for a while, clam strips —which are the fried parts of the foot of longer clams and don't include the belly/neck, unlike fried clams — are only around 90 years old. Thomas Soffron, a Massachusetts clam digger in the 1930s, couldn't stand eating clam necks as he found them unsanitary and began frying clam strips as they tasted sweeter.
Eventually, Soffron's work caught the eye of one of the biggest names in casual dining: Howard Johnson's, primarily a Northeastern chain, which was, at the time, mostly known for being a major restaurant with 28 ice cream flavors. Soffron Bros. became the only distributor of clam strips to the chain and the strips became an almost entirely-HoJo-only experience.
In most parts of the country, Howard Johnson's had a tight grip on the clam strip market and so, for several decades, you could only buy clam strips at Howard Johnson's restaurants. Though the restaurant chain is now defunct, clam strips have become plentiful.