NYC’s the Real Mother Shuckers Honors the Legacy of Black Oystermen

Moody (aka 37-year-old Ben Harney Jr) founded Brooklyn’s only oyster cart, the Real Mother Shuckers, in 2019 as a way to return oysters to their former ubiquity. Although most people associate the shellfish with upscale dining, oysters used to be widespread in New York during the 1800s, from street stalls selling oyster snacks to raw bars in the basements of buildings. Many of these oyster cellars were owned by African Americans, including the prominent Thomas Downing, who not only sold oysters but also became one of the wealthiest men in the city by doing so. In returning oysters to the street along with classic mignonettes or yuzu and green apple dressings, Moody honors the Black oystermen who were instrumental in building this legacy. “New York was the oyster capital of the world. And we’re eating hot dogs?” he asks The New York Times, where you can learn more about his mission and delectable offerings.

Image courtesy of Douglas Segars/The New York Times