10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Oysters

Love ’em or hate ’em, oysters have a surprisingly complex history. We investigate.


Oysters. People either love them or hate them, but rarely do oysters garner a simple “meh.” Yet surprisingly, there is a lot we don’t know about this tasty, slimy and expensive bivalve, save for the idea that you eat them raw, accompanied by champagne and that pregnant ladies aren’t allowed to join in. To help shed some light, here are 10 facts about these molluscs.

1. NYC used to be the place to eat oysters

When the Dutch first arrived in Manhattan during the 17th century, the island was covered in oyster beds, and oysters were a treat they, as well as the native population of Lenape Indians, thoroughly enjoyed. As more settlers came in and New York grew as a city, so did the consumption of this popular mollusc. By the 19th century, the oyster beds found in New York Harbor were the largest source of these creatures worldwide. In the city itself you could get raw oysters from street vendors or go to what was called an oyster saloon and find oysters cooked in all sorts of ways including scalloped, fried, dipped in butter, pan roasted and made into a stew. Unfortunately, this obsession with the mollusc caused mass destruction to the oyster beds, and they were all but wiped out. Today, there has been a strong push to revitalize the native oysters, though the days of having the streets of Manhattan glistening with shells is long gone.

2. Oysters have many health benefits

Before you take this statement too far — no, you will not get turned on by eating an oyster. However, this sexy bivalve packs a wallop of zinc, which is great for making you feel good and keeping up your energy. Not only does the zinc boost your sex drive, but it also ups your immune system, helps get rid of acne, eases rashes and makes your bones stronger.

3. There are five species of oysters

Sure you have over a hundred varieties of oysters, but did you know that all of these hail from only five species? And of those you have the Pacific Oysters (or Japanese Oyster), Kumamoto Oysters, European Flat Oysters, Atlantic Oysters and Olympia Oysters. Aside from the water they grow in, what makes these bivalves different from each other are the shells. The European Flat has a large, straight shell with fine ridges, whereas the Pacific Oysters are smaller with wavy casings. Kumamotos are also smaller, and the shell is rounder and pale, which is similar to the Olympias, though this one has a smoother shell with a bit of iridescent coloring. Finally, the Atlantic species looks like a comma or tear drop and tends to be on the larger side.

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Oysters

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