Crazy Facts About Long Island’s Place in Food History

Long Island is a treasure trove of culinary curiosities! From iconic dishes to hidden gems, Long Island has its fair share of crazy food facts that are sure to pique your interest. We explore surprising food facts that make Long Island an integral part of food history in its own right.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

LI Was Once The Oysters Capital of The World: During the late 19th century, the Blue Point oyster reigned supreme in global restaurants, transported by the newly introduced railroad in Sayville, according to an historical account of the South Shore’s oyster history from 2011 written by Sayville resident David Moglia.  This led to individual ownership of oyster beds in the bay and a thriving industry that peaked around 1900. Over 100,000 barrels of oysters were shipped annually, employing a substantial workforce and boosting ancillary businesses in Sayville. Larger companies eventually acquired smaller oyster businesses, with Jacob Ockers’ Blue Point Oyster Co. becoming the world’s largest by the early 1900s, firmly establishing the town’s reputation as the global oyster capital. Follow Up Fact: The Naked Cowboy – a performer who made a name for himself playing guitar in Times Square in his tighty whities – once came to Port Jefferson to promote The Naked Cowboys oyster brand grown right here on Long Island. He was issued a summons.

Bagel Boss Store

Flagel Trademarked by Bagel Boss: The flagel. It’s as simple as it sounds, a flattened bagel. But its history is a little more complex. According to a Village Voice article from 2003, the flagel was invented at Tasty Bagels, a Bensonhurst bagel shop. But the Daily News looked in on it and owner Joe Geraldi denied the claim. Alternatively, the term “flagel” was trademarked in 2010 by Bagel Boss CEO Adam Rosner, who said he’s used the term since 1999.

Speaking of Bagels: Bagel Boss may hold the trademark for flagel and have a pretty cool service called Bagel of the Month Club where they ship bagels anywhere in the United States but why are Long Island bagels the best? (We can all agree on that, right?) Everyone thinks it might be the water. That might or might not be true. Read “Why Long Island Has the Best Bagels” to find out.

📷 Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page.

Ice Cream Innovators: Did you know that the founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream grew up on Long Island and met in high school right here? Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield both spent their early years growing up on Long Island. Ben was born in Brooklyn and raised in Merrick. Jerry, on the other hand, was born in Brooklyn and raised in Hewlett. Cohen and Greenfield’s friendship began during their high school years when they both attended Calhoun High School in Merrick. Their bond deepened due to their shared passion for food, a sense of humor, and a mutual interest in making a positive impact on their community. Read more at “Ben & Jerry’s Founders: A Sweet Connection to Long Island.

Photograph by Mike Peel (, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

📷 Photograph by Mike Peel (, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ducks & More Ducks: Back in the day, Long Island was synonymous with two things: Potatoes and Ducks. Long before the bulldozers moved through and suburban homes and shopping malls sprouted up in their wake, ducks dotted the landscape, especially out east. Read these crazy facts about Long Island duck farming. You also might have heard of a little thing called The Big Duck. The Big Duck is more than just a quaint roadside attraction. It has influenced architecture and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You probably visited it once or twice as a kid and wondered at its gigantic size. It’s definitely a part of Long Island history. Click here to read some interesting and crazy facts about The Big Duck.

Long Island Potatoes

📷 Photo: Courtesy of Ed Wesnofske.

Back in the Day This Was All Potato Farms: If you grew up on Long Island, you heard someone say that at least once in your life. Well, it’s true. Before tracts of single-family homes sprouted up on Long Island in the post-war years, potato farms were the most common thing you would run into when driving out from New York City. Once, the mighty potato was king of Long Island farming (there was even an annual crowning of a Long Island Potato Queen), the crop has since dwindled. Land values skyrocketed and developers came in and gobbled it all up to feed the demand for suburban housing in the 1960s and 1970s. Click here to read a list of some crazy and informative facts about Long Island potato farming.

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