General Discussion

Origin of the Hangtown Fry


General Discussion 10

Origin of the Hangtown Fry

rworange | Oct 13, 2005 12:53 PM

There was a little discussion on the San Francisco board about the origin of the Hangtown Fry, an omelet-like dish with bread crumbed oysters, fried bacon, and beaten eggs cooked together until set.

Hard to believe a dish that unhealthy originated in California. No wonder efforts to make it the state dish have failed.

Even making it with local environmentally friendly ingrediants like Hogg Island oysters, Hobbs bacon and Marin Sun eggs wouldn't help the fat and cholesterol.

I never heard the prisoner's last meal story until it was mentioned in the SF thread. Searching around on the web, the story of the goldminer is the more popular story.

It seems a matter of who is trying to claim the origin of the omelete. If it is San Francisco, then the story is "the origin of the Hangtown Fry is when a condemned man in San Francisco was asked what he would like for his last meal, requested the two expensive foods in town: Olympia oysters and eggs."

The time to get these ingrediants would delay the execution in theory.

Obviously this is also the popular story in Washington state which provides the oysters.

However, Placerville, Ca (once called Hangtown) has done better PR, so the goldminer story is the most credited. The Placerville Mountain Democrat writes that a prospector who struck gold asked for the most expensive dish in town. He asked for the ingrediants to be scrambled together when he was told

“The most expensive things on the menu are eggs, bacon and oysters. The eggs have to be carefully packed to travel the rough road from over the coast; the bacon comes by ship round the horn from back east; and the fresh oysters we have to bring up each day on ice from the cold waters of San Francisco Bay."

The link below has more information about this and also a third source of the name, is that a saloon in SF called Parker's Bank Exchange originated the dish. However, it sounds like a different version from what is served today. The story infers that San Francisco was such a city of criminals during those Barbary times, that a lot of hanging was happening.

Placerville gets my vote as the origin of the Hangtown Fry.


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