We know York Countians have had a long love affair with the oyster. Start digging near the site of any old tavern, such as the Golden Plough, and you are likely to turn up remnants of long-ago oyster shells. Crushed oyster shells might be far under the streets you travel daily, since they were used as an early paving material.
With its proximity and trade orientation to Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay, oysters have always been popular here, especially in the months with an “R” in them. Why are oysters still mostly consumed in those months, September through April? There seems to be several reasons: Oysters reproduce during the summer months, keeping up a good supply of oysters; in the old days refrigeration wasn’t available, leading to spoilage in hot weather; and the quality is said to not be as good in the summer.
We just wish the prices were the same as those in the following Gazette ad for Bozman’s Oyster House on South George Street 110 years ago, in the fall of 1897:
It reads: “WHERE THE PEOPLE GO TO.
Bozman’s Oyster House.
WHY? BECAUSE IT IS THE PLACE TO GET YOUR MONEY’S WORTH.
Because we handle nothing but first class oysters and put them within every ones reach and the people of York know a good thing when they see it. That is why our business is increasing so rapidly. And why shouldn’t it, when we save the public money by dealing with us? Some say, how can we sell such a fine oyster as we handle for the money we sell them at? Because we handle our own oysters and do not get them through second hands as other do, and we give the public the benefit of our savings. Our motto is strictly “quick sales and small profits.” Our prices to everybody the same. 20, 30, and 40 CENTS PER QUART and SHELL OYSTERS from 30 to 45 CENTS PER PECK. By the BARREL from $3.25 to $4.25. Delivered free anywhere in the city.
J. C. BOZMAN, 310 South George Street, York, PA. Opposite Catholic Church.”
Whether you enjoy oysters once a year at the York County Heritage Trust Oyster Fest each October, dine on them at your favorite restaurant, or prepare them yourself, oysters still rule in York County.