Of course, fishing is a year-round industry in New England — in 2014, the region’s commercial catch totaled 643 million pounds and contributed $1.2 billion to the economy. But nothing says “summer” here more tastily than lobster rolls and fried clams. (And, of course, the mandatory soft-serve afterward.) So let’s ponder this: Which seafood makes the season most savory?
> WHAT’LL IT COST YA?
Clams: $5.99 per pound, steamers, the Clam Man, Falmouth
Lobsters: $9.99 per pound, Yankee Lobster Company, Boston
> DO THEY HAVE A BRAIN?
Clams: Not a Rhodes scholar; just a few ganglia, or collections of nerve cells
Lobsters: Sort of (i.e., a collection of ganglia the size of a ballpoint-pen tip)
> PEAK OF DELICIOUSNESS
Clams: 11 years for surf clams, around 90 — yes, 90 — for quahogs (age before wisdom)
Lobsters: A 1-pound lobster is probably 5 to 7 years old.
> YEARS THEY CAN LIVE IF YOU DON’T EAT THEM
Clams: A clam named Ming was killed in 2006 by scientists who later determined it had been 507 years old and the oldest living creature of any kind.
Lobsters: George, believed to be 140, was caught in Maine in 2009. It’s possible Ming the Clam baby-sat him. (Scientists now say it’s likely George’s age was grossly overestimated. Poser!)
> SNOB FACTOR
Clams: Clams Casino, popularized in 1917 in Kingston, Rhode Island
Lobsters: Lobster Newberg, introduced in 1876 by sea captain Ben Wenberg, a patron, to the chef at Delmonico’s in New York
> BIB SUGGESTED?
Clams: Only if you’re still in a highchair
Lobsters: Yes, but your sex appeal will plummet.
> SPONGEBOB CRED
Clams: Sandy and SpongeBob meet when she rescues him from a giant clam.
Lobsters: Larry the Lobster, a narcissistic bodybuilding lifeguard crustacean
> CINEMATIC SHOUT-OUT
Clams: “Now, the lady will have the linguini and white clam sauce and a Coke with no ice.” — Mike Damone, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Lobsters: “Talk to him! You speak shellfish.” — Alvy Singer to Annie Hall in Annie Hall
> CAN YOU DANCE TO IT?
Clams: “Do the Clam,” Elvis Presley, 1965
Lobsters: “Rock Lobster,” the B-52’s, 1979
> SARTORIAL HOMAGE
Lobsters: Lady Gaga’s silver lobster hat
> THE VERDICT
Clams: Though delicious steamed or fried, clams are the underwater equivalent of Pet Rocks.
Lobsters: Lobsters claw their way to the top on the basis of personality alone.
SOURCES: woodmans.com; thenakedscientist.com; sciencenordic.com; NOAA; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; New England Aquarium; foodtimeline.org; whatscookingamerica.net; SpongeBob SquarePants fan site; spongebob.wikia.com; IMDb.com; youtube.com; nymag.com