Craving clam chowder but short on time? Since 1920, Snow’s Clam Chowder has been a favorite New England quick chowder tradition.
By Aimee Tucker
Dec 30 2021
Caption TKPhoto Credit : Aimee Seavey
Here in New England, we’re passionate about homemade clam chowder, but for times when (for convenience’s sake) we must resort to canned, a popular brand with local Maine roots is Snow’s Clam Chowder.
Snow’s has been a New England canned clam tradition since 1920, when Fred Snow first opened the F.H. Snow’s Canning Company in Pine Point, Maine just a few miles north of Old Orchard Beach. While the company offered up a host of canned offerings (from corn chowder and minced clams to Welsh rarebit and sardines), the most popular product in the line was Snow’s Clam Chowder, allegedly made from an old family recipe. For generations, the company was big business in Pine Point, employing roughly 100 residents, and Snow was heralded in 1946 as “Maine’s Millionaire Clam Digger” by the Boston Sunday Post. Later, in the late 1950s, Fred’s son Harold, who had been working alongside his father and making extensive improvements to the company’s efficiency, merged Snow’s with dairy giant Borden.
As the company grew, it added even more products to the lineup and expanded its advertising. I was especially amused to see that, during the early 1970s under Borden, the slogan for Snow’s was “There’s a streak of Yankee cussedness in every can.” By 1990, Borden had moved Snow’s operations from Maine to Cape May, NJ, where larger production facilities helped keep up with demand (the Pine Point plant closed in 1994), and that’s still where Snow’s is made and canned today, although, after multiple mergers and purchases, it’s now a part of Bumble Bee Foods.
I confess, my only previous experience with Snow’s Clam Chowder before this was a can of their condensed chowder (the kind where you have to add milk to water before heating) several years ago, and it was not a good one, but this time around, I picked up a can of the ready-to-serve variety, which proved much more appetizing in both looks and taste.
Inside was a creamy chowder with noticeable chunks of clam and potato. Not too shabby for something out of a can, but then again, this is New England, where we revere bread in a can, so why not chowder?
Wondering about the world of canned chowder (were there any earning rave reviews?), I did some searching on-line and came across a post on product review blog Dave’s Cupboard, including a comprehensive guide to more than 20 canned chowder varieties. Of Snow’s ready-to-eat, Dave says “The difference between this and Snow’s condensed is like night and day. Delicious broth, just the right consistency, luscious with cream and butter. Plenty of clams (mostly small pieces, but there are some fairly good chunks in there too) and lots of chunky potatoes. This is good enough to buy again!”
And for the chowder-desperate with nowhere to turn but the supermarket, I’d be inclined to agree, provided one can add a little milk for enhanced richness, a good crank of freshly ground pepper, and the customary handful of oyster crackers.
It’s no secret that homemade clam chowder is best, but for convenience’s sake, are you a fan of Snow’s? Is there another “quick” version you love or do you just make your own and freeze it for later? We’re partial to this recipe for Classic New England Clam Chowder.
Are you a fan of Snow’s Clam Chowder?
This post was first published in 2015 and has been updated.