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Boston's most famous contribution to the food world?

[NOTE: We've moved this discussion from the thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/973074 -- The Chowhound Team]

What would you say is Boston's most famous contribution to the food world? Other than clam chowder and Boston cream pie and parker house rolls? There's always Fluff, from Somerville.

We love Tenoch.

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    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Speaking of NECCO, they also produce Valentines' Day candy hearts. Junior Mints are also made in Boston.

    2. That's a great question. I have some personal favorites but honestly, don't know if they qualify as a full contribution to the food world. Steak Tips come to mind. The other thing that occurs to me is that Sam Adams Brewery, while they didn't invent micro-brewing or "craft beer" they certainly made it mainstream.

      9 Replies
      1. re: UnclePH

        A couple other entries would include stuffed baked clams, fried clams and baked schrod

        1. re: UnclePH

          I love all of those, as well as lobster rolls, clam chowder, etc. Good stuffed baked clams are amazing if the clams aren't overcooked into rubber.
          but I think most of the dishes are New England, not specifically Boston or Mass, while Necco wafters and fluff originated here. Coffee milk in Rhode Island? you could add baked beans in the New England way. Indian Pudding.

          I personally think Cheez whiz is a horrible affront to anyone who eats. I personally can't eat it, though I know many have a craving for it. But we can't call Philadelphia on cheez wiz given our Fluff. And they don't put cheez wiz on Philly steak sandwich, do they? And we don't put fluff on necco wafers, I hope!

          1. re: Madrid

            The Fig Newton also originated in Cambridge

            (but they decided not to call it the Fig Cambridge--I guess Fig Newton sounded classier)

            I do not think this exactly a contribution to world cuisine, but as long as we're bottom fishing with the Necco wafer (dustiest weirdest worst candy ever!)...

            1. re: femmevox

              ...except for the black ones. Those are alright.

              1. re: femmevox

                Don't forget the Sky Bar, IIRC also a Necco product. Four flavors: fudge, caramel, white and mystery.

              2. re: Madrid

                Haha! Ok, I have to admit that Cheez Whiz is, at best, a guilty pleasure, and I can't eat it on its own either, but it is the authentic way to eat a Philly Cheesesteak and I must confess...I really like Philly Cheesesteaks.

                1. re: Madrid

                  "And they don't put cheez wiz on Philly steak sandwich, do they?"

                  Oh yes they do! and it's glorious!! Go to Pat's King of Steaks, and order a 'wiz wit' (cheese wiz and onions), then load it up with the complimentary pepperoncinis......it is pure bliss, the meat juice mixes with the cheese wiz and soaks into the bread and forms the one and only time I like my bread to get even remotely soggy...it's sooooooooooooo good

                  1. re: devilham

                    word. I was born in S. Philadelphia (<- bullshit chowhound "what I have experienced provides me cred") there is no need to explain, as opposed to experience, this.

            2. I'd say there are our contributions to broader food culture, and then there are some local peculiarities that haven't spread much outside of the region, like the North Shore roast beef sandwich, jonnycakes, chow mein sandwiches, coffee milk, and the like.

              Necco wafers taste that way because they are made from bone meal and earwig honey.


              4 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Emmett Watson, may he RIP, said it was hard to hold a nation whose contribution to cuisine appeared to be bangers and mash, kippers, and jello salad in high esteem. He was, of course, talking about GB.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  <bone meal and earwig honey>

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I think it's hard to draw a line between what is definitively "Boston" cuisine and what is "New England". With that in mind, Massachusetts is the home to the Mother of all food holidays, Thanksgiving. While our traditional Thanksgiving meal looks considerably different from the first one many of the food traditions of Thanksgiving hail from here: succotash, cranberry sauce, corn bread etc...

                  2. I'd say the chocolate chip cookie is a pretty great contribution to the food world. It was invented in Whitman, Mass.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: wandergirl

                      is that the toll house cookie? Wow, I didn't know that about Mass. Thanks.

                      1. re: Madrid

                        Yes, the toll house cookie. It's surprising that Mass doesn't take more credit for it and that it isn't more widely known. Here's a recent article from the Globe (hopefully the link will work):


                      2. "Most famous" or most noteworthy?

                        1. What about Boston Baked Beans? Either the candy or the baked in a pot variety...I was horrified the first time I had baked beans in a tomato based sauce!

                          Or brown bread, toll house (chocolate chip) cookies, codcakes,

                          1. The term "scrod"

                            Of course, at a restaurant in Canada, I was able to order its freshwater cousin "splake"

                            1. Well, if we're not exactly staying in Boston, let's do Quincy.
                              Dunkin' Donuts and Howard Johnson Ice Cream. H.J. also originated franchising (I'm sure someone will challenge me on that, but it's true). Who knew?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: CocoDan

                                went to HJ's on nearly every stop of the NJ turnpike. So it did originate in Mass? Met my first fried clam there, and even though it was a strip, it was awesome.

                                1. re: Madrid

                                  Yes. As much as I love full belly clams, I used to really like their clam strips. And, of course you realize McDonald's knocked off their 3D Burger with the Big Mac. Boy did I love that 3D.

                              2. famous or infamous Legal's seafood started in Inman square Cambridge :)

                                1. Bar none: the global ice and therefore refrigerated food trade. It's also why Americans have a notorious (outside America) love of iced beverages.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    it started here? I know Spy Pond in Arlington shipped ice as far as to India, but didn't know it start here.

                                    1. re: Madrid

                                      I have friends in Chestnut Hill who have a very old weekend cabin and outbuildings in Westwood, that includes an ice house that during the civil war stayed cold past July 4. A pond on the property provided the ice blocks, insulation was mostly hay, plus the coolness of being underground.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Is that on Summer Street in Westwood?

                                      2. re: Madrid

                                        Yes, it did. Frederic Tudor is probably the best known captain of the ice industry, but it was more complex than just ice.

                                        1. re: Madrid

                                          Well Marblehead is close to Boston, and that is where Clarence Birdseye developed frozen foods.

                                      3. IMHO Boston's most important contribution to food was bringing Julia Child and "The French Chef" to TV on February 11, 1963 (WGBH - Boston Public Television). Although I am a huge fan of Boston Baked Beans, steamed brown bread, Necco candies, HoJo's, Fig Newtons, Toll House Cookies and other Boston products. Also "The Victory Garden" TV show - which inspired me to grow a lot of my own vegetables - was another WGBH production.

                                        1. Maybe another CH will know better, or maybe I will, if i ever rcve my Fortune Cookie Chronicles from Amazon, but I think that 'our own' Joyce Chen was responsible for introducing Szechuan food to the greater U.S. public
                                          ( via TV.) If true, that might be as monumental as choc chip Tollhouse cookies.....

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                            Joyce Chen was certainly instrumental in introducing Americans to Northern/Shanghai Chinese food. She also was on TV and gave the cuisine a lot of exposure.

                                            Though not as well know, David Keh had several restaurants in NY and he is also credited with introducing Sichuan to NY.

                                            David K's was quite the restaurant experience for a young kid. I wonder how it would stack up today.


                                          2. I'm partial to the theory that Porterhouse Steak was launched in Porter Square, Cambridge. Though there are other theories.


                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: pedxing

                                              This is the one that I was thinking of, Julia Child is also a good one.


                                              1. re: steinpilz

                                                A sidebar on Julia Child: While I certainly respect her work, I don't think of Julia Child as quite as consequential as all that for food as such, but more for television education (her book, while important, was not as important as her TV work - the early TV work in particular is remarkable for the density of content she provides - a stark contrast for the lifestyle fluff and "sponsorship" ads that now dominate almost all TV food shows even on public TV). People like Madeleine Kamman (who, btw, first really took off in the Boston area) and Edna Lewis had more of an effect on deeper trends in American food (the former for her emphasis on technique, the latter for her emphasis on local and seasonally oriented cooking - she had so many heirs that they don't realize they are her heirs).


                                              2. re: pedxing

                                                Interesting - I grew up in Cambridge and never knew that! By the way, your link doesn't work because it ends in ".htmll". If anyone else is interested the correct link is http://www.bahistory.org/HistoryCattl...

                                              3. C'mon, all of you...
                                                Go back even beyond Julia (blessed be her name), and you have Frances Merrit Farmer, born in 1857, author of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook...
                                                "...Her cookbook introduced the concept of using standardized measuring spoons and cups, as well as level measurement. A follow-up to an earlier version called Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884, the book under Farmer's direction eventually contained 1,850 recipes, from milk toast to Zigaras à la Russe. Farmer also included essays on housekeeping, cleaning, canning and drying fruits and vegetables, and nutritional information"

                                                For those who don't know about her contributions to the arts we take for granted, read her Wiki...

                                                1. Lobster Roll, Charleston Chew, Scraft Candies, Scrod, Fried Clams a small stretch, Teddy Peanut Butter, Sam Adams Beer and American Chop Suey. Oh, Hoods Milk.

                                                  1. This is a fun thread, everyday I think about more. Brigham's ice cream started Needham, Steve's ice cream with mixin's started in Somerville.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: lc02139

                                                      Bertucci's brought the wood fired pizza and "exotic" (read: not just pepperoni, sausage, peppers....) ingredients to the masses. I still mis the bocce ball courts.

                                                      1. re: Unfoodie

                                                        Ah, those bocce courts. And when the original Steve's Ice Cream was almost next door to the original Bertucci's, and I lived a few blocks away, it was heaven.

                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                          That's back when Bertucci's was a great pie and Steves was the best for mix ins. Steves was the precursor to Stone Cold and I wouldn't go to a Bertucci's today.

                                                        2. re: Unfoodie

                                                          I miss the old pizza, which I recall as being so much better than it is now. Their clam pizza was great.

                                                        1. re: scotty27

                                                          has that traveled outside any of lydia's kitchens?

                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                            I love Lydia, but she was not the first one to make lobster pizza. Sharky's on Appleton St. in the So. End was the first place I had it. Also made shrimp and lobster combo pizza's. Wow! It was run by the same owner that has since closed The Village Fish. Once of Brookline and then moved to Needham. Now gone.
                                                            Enjoyed Very Much,

                                                            1. re: CocoDan

                                                              When my kid was little, we would go to the beach for fried clams and beach pizza, and she would put two or three fried clams on her square slice and eat it up.
                                                              It makes for an expensive slice of pizza, but a nice splurge a couple times a year.