Going Retro with the Secret Fair Clam Chowder Recipe

Fair Haven Firemen's Fair's chowder recipe in the Asbury Park Press circa 1965 Clipping Photo/courtesy of Dave Luker
Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair’s chowder recipe in the Asbury Park Press circa 1965
Clipping Photo/courtesy of Dave Luker

The following story was first published on Sept. 7, 2016. In honor of the week-long Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair and all its tradition, including that famous clam chowder, here it is again … 

The recipe for the famous Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair Manhattan clam chowder was considered a highly-guarded secret. People flocked to get their fill at the fair, because they could only get it once a year. It was a secret taken to the grave with former Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair Chairman James Acker.

So he thought. So everyone thought — until a widely-publicized story about the chowder recipe, including the recipe, was unearthed. And, guess what? The Asbury Park Press story was dated  back to 1965.

So, was all that guarding of the recipe in vain? Who knows? It may have evolved to another add another secret ingredient or two. Maybe not.

But, what is definitely known is that the longstanding “secret” chowder recipe — for a few decades, anyway — wasn’t really a secret after all.

Native Fair Havenite Dave Luker found the clipping from the APP and sent it to us. It seems that his mom and dad are the ones behind it.

They weren’t in the fire company — a little realized tidbit. They just enjoyed making the chowder and sharing it with the community.

Just one thing. According to the APP story, the chowder calls for clam liquor. Anyone ever heard of such a gem? OK, fine, it’s more than likely that was a typo. Don’t forget, this story was written back in the day of typewriters, cutting and pasting on a big board in a back room. So, typos, well, they were given a bit of slack. Not that proofreaders and copy editors weren’t diligent. There were only so man pairs of eyes, so much time and what with all that clam liquor lying around …

And, so, friends and fair chowder fans, we give you the chowder recipe, in case you didn’t get your fill at the fair or didn’t stock up on those quarts for sale at the take-out window.

So, the Retro Pic of the Day honors the chowder, the secret recipe and offers a “Cheers!” to clam liquor!

How do ya like them clams?

— Elaine Van Develde


John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management