In PS Mag:
It was so from the 1600's until the 20th century. This is astonishing to modern sensibilities— how is it that lobster, which we consider to be quite the fancy thing to eat, transform into what it is today? Well, thanks to railroad service starting in the 1880's, chefs discovered they could cook it live, and that people far away from Massachusetts did not have the same class-based aversion to the food.
If today’s lobster wears a top hat and an opera cape, 80 years ago he was wearing overalls and picking up your garbage. Lobster is a self-made creature, and quite the social climber.
Lobsters were so abundant in the early days—residents in the Massachusetts Bay Colony found they washed up on the beach in two-foot-high piles—that people thought of them as trash food. It was fit only for the poor and served to servants or prisoners. In 1622, the governor of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford, was embarrassed to admit to newly arrived colonists that the only food they “could presente their friends with was a lobster … without bread or anyhting else but a cupp of fair water” (original spelling preserved). Later, rumor has it, some in Massachusetts revolted and the colony was forced to sign contracts promising that indentured servants wouldn’t be fed lobster more than three times a week.
This is what happened to Pabst Blue Ribbon, which went from a working-class Midwestern beer to Brooklyn’s preferred Hipster beverage. It’s also what happened to Marlboro, a poorly selling women’s cigarette (“Mild as May”) before being rebranded to appeal to men. In both cases, nothing about the product itself changed. But if the peer behavior around the product changes, so too does our appreciation of it.