Oystering in Apalachicola

Oyster tonging

Oyster tonging

Oystering communities around the world take pride in the quality and freshness of their succulent bivalves, and Apalachicola is no exception. With its brackish waters and calm winds, Apalachicola Bay is a prime setting for both oysters and the industry built around them to thrive.

Young boy enjoying oyster at the Florida Seafood Festival - Apalachicola, Florida

Young boy enjoying oyster at the Florida Seafood Festival – Apalachicola, Florida

The people of Apalachicola possess skills, beliefs, and a spirit of generosity and perseverance that make the community unique. Crafts such as boat building or oyster tong making are passed down through generations, as are techniques for harvesting and shucking the oysters. Successful seafood distributors make the product available to the many restaurants and retailers in the region, and the community celebrates its heritage during the annual Florida Seafood Festival.

Miss Florida Seafood 1974, Rosalie Nichols, at the Florida Seafood Festival

Miss Florida Seafood 1974, Rosalie Nichols, at the Florida Seafood Festival


From 1986-1987, the Florida Folklife Program, in collaboration with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, conducted the Maritime Heritage Survey. The fieldworkers documented fishing communities around the state, including a wealth of interviews and photographs from Apalachicola. The following sound clips came from that survey.

Interview with oyster shuckers Virginia Duggar and Nanette Lolley
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/occupations/s1592_duggar_lolley_excerpt.mp3|titles=Interview with oyster shuckers Virginia Duggar and Nanette Lolley|artists=State Archives of Florida]
Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record

Oyster shuckers Virginia Duggar and Nanette Lolley describe techniques for shucking oysters and the tools of the trade.

Oyster cracking machine in Jeff Hewett's shop: Eastpoint, Florida

Oyster cracking machine in Jeff Hewett’s shop: Eastpoint, Florida

Interview with oyster tong maker Corky Richards
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/occupations/s1592_richards_excerpt01.mp3|titles=Interview with oyster tong maker Corky Richards, selection one|artists=State Archives of Florida]
Download: MP3
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/occupations/s1592_richards_excerpt02.mp3|titles=Interview with oyster tong maker Corky Richards, selection two|artists=State Archives of Florida]
Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record

Corky Richards discusses materials and terminology used for building oyster tongs, how they are built, what makes a good pair of tongs, and how they can be customized for each oysterman.

Corky Richards making an oyster tong: Apalachicola, Florida

Corky Richards making an oyster tong: Apalachicola, Florida

Interview with oyster shucking knife maker Loys Cain
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/occupations/s1592_cain_excerpt.mp3|titles=Interview with oyster shucking knife maker Loys Cain|artists=State Archives of Florida]
Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record

Knife maker Loys Cain discusses materials and tools for building oyster shucking knives, as well as how health and safety regulations have impacted the construction of the knives.

Knife maker Loys Cain with finished oyster knife: Eastpoint, Florida

Knife maker Loys Cain with finished oyster knife: Eastpoint, Florida

How do you like your oysters? Baked? Steamed? Raw on the half-shell? Tell us about where your favorite oysters come from and how you eat them!

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7 thoughts on “Oystering in Apalachicola

  1. The Oyster shucking machine photographed was made by my father in law Jeff Hewett. My wife was thrilled to see it and his name in the blog. He passed on a few years ago.

    • Hello John. Thank you for your comment! We will add your father-in-law’s full name to the catalog record. Did he invent the machine?

      We have an audio cassette in the Archives containing an interview with Jeff Hewett.
      http://floridamemory.com/items/show/240484

      It has not yet been digitized for online listening, however you can contact us if you would like to order a copy, or if you would like more information.

  2. I LOVE Apalachicola oysters! They’re my favorite oysters in the world. My favorite way to eat them is raw, no sauce, no crackers, just straight from the shell. That being said, I will eat them anyway you want to make them. Also, a good simple oyster stew on a chilly day is another great way to go!

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