Spend some time in downtown Long Beach and you will see the “World’s Largest Frying Pan”. This famous pan has toured the West Coast, cooked up delicious clam fritters, and appeared in countless family vacation photos. (Have you taken a photo in front of it?) With nearly 80 years of history, this pan is a beloved icon of the Long Beach Peninsula.
Northwest Copper and Sheet Metal Works created the giant frying pan in Portland in 1941. The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce commissioned it to help promote the first annual Clam Festival.
The completed pan weighed 1,300 pounds and was 10-feet wide and 20 feet tall!
Chef Wellington W. Marsh made the giant fritter. As you can imagine, this recipe required a lot of clams. 200 pounds of clams to be exact. It took a few helping hands, two garden hoes, and four two-foot by two-foot spatulas to make the fritter. According to the 1941 news article on the event “the fritter took 20 minutes to fry to a beautiful golden brown and was eaten before you could say Jack Robison”.
The next year, 20,000 people showed up to eat the nine-foot clam fritter cooked in the frying pan.
Chef Wellington W. Marsh’s Giant Fritter Recipe
- 200 pounds of clams
- 20 dozen eggs
- 20 pounds of flour
- 20 pounds of cracker meal
- 20 pounds of cornmeal
- 10 gallons of milk
- 13 gallons of salad oil
If the name “Marsh” sounds familiar, it should! Wellington W. Marsh’s grandfather created Marsh’s Free Museum, home to Jake the Alligator Man among other oddities.
To advertise the clam fest, they took the giant frying pan on tour throughout the Pacific Northwest. It even made it all the way to Los Angeles in 1952.
For a long time, the pan hung outside of Marsh’s Free Museum, but it became rustier and rustier over the year.
It almost became scrap metal, but a local retired fisherman by the name of Everett L. Mosher saved it. He remembered eating from the pan as a teenager and didn’t want to see this piece of Long Beach heritage disappear.
During the year-long restoration process he discovered more than 300 signatures and six bullet holes.
Unfortunately, the pan itself was beyond repair. Only the original handle remains. The pan on display now is made of fiberglass, and another smaller pan is used during the annual Razor Clam Festival.
So is it really the world’s largest frying pan?
Not quite. A few contenders have popped up since the Long Beach frying pan was created, but no other giant frying pan has been used for creating clam fritters. Much like the peninsula’s claim to fame as the “World’s Longest Beach”, the frying pan may not be the largest, but it certainly is one-of-a-kind.