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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, if you were hungry, you might stop somewhere and get some oysters to snack on.

“Oyster bars used to be the way pizza parlors are today.  There used to be an oyster bar on every block,” says Sam Mink, owner of the Oyster House at 1516 Sansom Street.

Mink moved back to Philadelphia from San Francisco to carry on the Mink family seafood business tradition. Mink’s father owned the Sansom Street Oyster House at the same location.  And now, the Oyster House has started a new tradition of its own.

“On March 26th, our second annual oyster-shucking competition is being held,” Mink told KYW Newsradio recently.  “It’s a really fun event that we came up with to display the skill that goes into shucking.  All the oysters that the shuckers shuck get passed out for free.”

Admission to the whole event is five dollars.

oyster side 04 Positively Philadelphia:  Oyster Shucking Contest In Center CityShucker Anthony Leary (at left in photo) works in the middle of the restaurant and can shuck a dozen or more oysters in a minute using his technique.

“There’s a little lip in the front,” he explains.  “You just stick the knife in and you gently twist, and it comes right open.  A lot of people come by and want to see them freshly shucked.  They love them.”

So why are oysters special?

“Ohhh…have you had an oyster?” Mink asks incredulously.  “Oysters are very mysterious.  They are fruit of the sea.  They have such an interesting, complex, salty, sweet, slimy texture.  There’s really no other food like it.”

Hear Lauren Lipton’s full interview with Sam Mink in this CBS Philly podcast…

That’s Positively Philadelphia!

Reported by Lauren Lipton, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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