Our great American imagination
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18
RICK Well, local pride in an unusual structure is reinforced when it’s connected to a local specialty. And in Ipswich, Massachusetts, you’ll want to find the Clam Box.
ALEXIS It makes you think of the food, you know. You see a big hot dog, you’re like, “Mmm, hot dog. I want one.” See a big clam box, you’re like, “Mmm, clams.”
CHICKIE Well, Ipswich is famous for clams. I think the clams here are special.
RICK Of course she does. That’s Marina Aggelakis – everyone calls her “Chickie” –
CHICKIE Number one please, number one.
RICK And she’s owned and run this place since 1985. It’s always busy here. And you’ll often find Chickie’s son, Dimitri, in the kitchen of this building that’s in the shape of a small cardboard container.
DIMITRI I think that attracts a lot of people obviously. You know. And since it’s the Clam Box, and that’s what we specialize in: clams. Yeah. You know.
PAT The Clam Box. If you say the Clam Box at Ipswich, yeah, in their mind, they visualize a clam box.
AMELIA He said, “The Clam Box,” and I just happened to be looking, we drive by, and I looked up and I go, “Oh! It is a clam box!”
RICH You know I guess if you were to put it like in an urban setting, it might look like a Chinese take-out.
DONNA It’s just eye-catching. It’s just the immediate grab. I think. Don’t you think?
PAT But you walk up to it, and you’re already salivating cause you know what a clam box is like. (laughs)
RICH Every time we pass, we have to see this place, this Clam Box, and if you don’t stop, then you know half an hour later we got to stop someplace else for clams.
BUTCH Usually when you come here it’s so crowded there’s a line around the building.
CHICKIE The architectural design of the building draws an attraction but my feeling is, and I like to say that they come here because of the quality of the food and the clams.
ANDY We heard it was a great place to eat, and we decided to stop in and check it out. And I didn’t even notice the shape of the building. (laughs)
DIMITRI It’s amazing. You see people that come from long distances because it’s like the Clam Box. And it’s like a box, you know.
CINDY The shape of the box brings you in, because you see it as an attraction, but the food here is great.
SERVER Number 87 please.
CHICKIE It actually was built in 1935, the previous owner had changed it a little bit, and added the dining area and the back kitchen area.
DIMITRI OK. To make a clam, I’m gonna first just measure the clams out in my cup here.
CHICKIE And we dip them in evaporated milk.
DIMITRI I dump the clams in the evap. And then I dump them in the mixture of the flour.
CHICKIE The blend of yellow corn flour and pastry flour. The pastry flour is actually put into the yellow…
LOUDSPEAKER Seven, please.
CHICKIE …to make sure that the flour, yellow flour, sticks to the belly.
DIMITRI You just have to play with your fingers like this, lift it up. You want to put as much flour on the clam and take as much off after.
CHICKIE Cause you wouldn’t want to eat a clam and not have the belly covered.
DIMITRI Put a lot of flour on top of them, shake them off. And I’m going to throw them in this Fry-O-Later right here, they only stays in this Fry-O-Later for about say fifteen seconds tops. That takes all the excess flour off the clam.
DIMITRI Then he pulls it out and he cooks it in this one here. And that’s what makes it crispy and nice.
CHICKIE Not only is the quality good, but the quantity is also good. I will never change that. As long as I’m here at the Clam Box.
RICK It’s impressive. And you know, the Clam Box is not that outrageous a structure. It’s really just a slightly modified roofline on that one part of the building, but that’s obviously enough.
RELISH BOY Like when you’re young you don’t really notice it, but once you start working here, you just kind of like, Wow. The place I work is in the shape of a box. I mean Geez.
ALEXIS Yeah, I am in the box. (laughs)
BUTCH It’s kind of neat to be sitting in the place, you know. Gives it uh…. a little bit of charm.
RICH Now the saddest thing would be to see them franchise it into a bunch of Clam Boxes across the country. But they don’t. There’s one. And it’s this one.
PAT There’s a uniqueness here with a building like this – or any building that you know is shaped in a certain fashion.
CHICKIE I think it’s great. I love my building.