Tag Archive | World's largest frying pan

World’s Largest Frying Pan?

No. But its history is fascinating

March 7, 2023

April 29, 1940 – the first Clam Festival cooking the fritter on a borrowed giant frying pan
No explanation needed…

My brother shared a blurb with me recently which piqued my interest: “It was on March 7, 1992 when the world’s largest crepe was baked and flipped in Bloemfontein, South Africa. It was 41 feet 2 inches in diameter, an inch and-a-half deep, and weighed 5,908 pounds. Sounds like the special at Denny’s.”

So it got me thinking about a large item a bit closer to home. Down in Long Beach, Washington, there is a frying pan. It’s a huge frying pan and it is propped upright on large metal stand in the middle of town. Needless to say, it’s quite noticeable and tourists who flock to the peninsula every year will often have their photo taken in front of the pan.

Why, I asked, was the pan even made and what is its history? Research reveals that in 1941, local leaders conceived of the idea of a Clam Festival. Someone, likely Wellington Marsh, Sr., a successful businessman and owner of Marsh’s Free Museum, suggested that they bake a giant clam fritter. The community borrowed the first pan from the city of Chehalis, a couple hours to the northeast.

Although the Infallible Wikipedia is silent on the matter, the Long Beach Razor Clam Festival webpage is not. Here’s what they say about that first event:

“The fritter was constructed using 200 pounds of razor clams, 20 dozen eggs, 20 pounds each of flour, cracker meal, and cornmeal, 10 gallons of milk, and 13 gallons of salad oil. Ralph Smith, and numerous other locals, would dig the clams and donate them to the Festival. (snip)

The stories hold that a couple of girls helped grease the pan by ‘skating on large slabs of butter’ across the surface of the pan. The cooks even used garden hoes and two-foot-square shovels to maneuver the fritter in the pan. (snip)

The following year a new frying pan was unveiled; this time Long Beach would have their very own frying pan to boast as the ‘World’s Largest.’ This was made possible through the Chamber of Commerce and was manufactured by Northwest Copper and Sheet Metal Works of Portland. The Pan, from base to handle, measured in at a whopping 14.6 feet long.”

The ‘Clam Queens’ in their rather unique clam shell bathing suits. Looks to me like those are actual razor clam shells…

And thus began the annual clam festival. People would flock to the beach for the event, all wanting their share of the delicious fritter. This event seemed to get bigger and bigger. There was even a group of people who took the frying pan on a tour of the state, complete with two ‘Bathing Clam Beauties’, to promote interest in the event.

The success of it all did exactly as expected and the tourism to Long Beach exploded. It was the unintended consequences which eventually shut it down.

The last year of the original festival was 1948 with two factors which came into play. First, local restaurants complained that the tourists were not frequenting their establishments; after all, if the people can eat the giant fritter for free, they won’t go buy a meal somewhere else.

But the biggest factor was an alarming decrease in the availability of razor clams.

Also from the webpage:

“The Washington State Director of Fisheries warned that the coastal Razor Clam populations could not withstand the current level of harvest. It had been estimated that in 1946, that clam diggers had taken six million pounds of clams from the beaches of Copalis, Grayland, and Long Beach.”

In the following years, the state Fisheries division instituted limits on razor clams and, eventually, limited digs to a few selected dates each year.

And that was the end of the Clam Festival until, in 1994, an attempt was made to revive the event. Unfortunately it was discovered that the base of the pan had all but rusted away and was no longer viable for cooking. Instead, it was repaired with fiberglass and then hung at its current location as a tourist attraction.

The town “commissioned a welding company in Astoria to construct a new aluminum pan. This pan was inaugurated, cooking a giant fritter, at the Main Street Dedication in 1994. It was then placed in Fish Alley downtown, and was used as a small stage. In 2014, the second year of the Annual Long Beach Razor Clam Festival’s revival, the pan was refurbished and is still used for the giant fritter cook-off done by students.”

My sister and I – with our kids – at the frying pan the summer of 2003

Over the years, my family has had many photos snapped in front of that giant frying pan, the kids growing up chronicled every few years.

Whenever we visit Long Beach our tradition is to drive up the main drag of town (there is a road on the bay side of the peninsula which is faster to our family condo). When we get to the light at Sid Snyder Drive that is what I think of as being at Long Beach.

Some distance ahead are the colorful kites twirling on buildings and American flags which line the sidewalks flapping in the ever constant breeze. The sidewalks are almost always awash with pedestrians and cars clog the roads.

And soon we are driving past all that makes Long Beach, well, Long Beach.

 Marshs’ Free Museum on the left, the giant squirting clam and Frying Pan on the right. The arcade and the rides (although those were shut down during the pandemic and have not reopened) up next. Then a multitude of restaurants, clothing, and novelty stores. Our favorites, Castaways, Stormin’ Norman’s, and Beachcombers on the left, Dylan’s Cottage Bakery on the right. And then we arrive at Bolstad Avenue. A quick glance to the left and we see “The World’s Longest Beach” sign and then its past Scoopers where one night during our summer visit we will enjoy an amazing ice cream cone. And, finally, downtown is behind us.

The Clam Festival was revived in 2013. Although I have not had a chance to attend, it’s now on my radar and I hope to get there next year. So if you have the time and the inclination, make your reservations now to spend the weekend of April 8 and 9, 2023, at Long Beach for the event. And be sure to wave at the frying pan when you drive into town.

After all, nothing quite says ‘you’re here’ than the first glimpse of that giant frying pan.

The links:

https://www.longbeachrazorclamfestival.com/ (official site)

https://www.visitlongbeachpeninsula.com/giant-frying-pan/ (more history plus links to other activities)

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/84803-largest-frying-pan (some crazy person who used his pan to cook calf livers. I kid you not)


(An interesting list)

(Where we stay when at Long Beach)

Long Beach, Washington

A wonderful resort town

January 18, 2022

Although there is no definitive answer as to when something becomes a tradition, I can state unequivocally that my family has a tradition to visit this Washington State city at least once a year; we’ve been doing so for generations now.

My daughter under the World’s Longest Beach sign 2009

The city of Long Beach was incorporated 100 years ago today on January 18, 1922. We go to the Infallible Wikipedia for a bit of history:

“Long Beach began when Henry Harrison Tinker bought a land claim from Charles E. Reed in 1880. He platted the town and called it ‘Tinkerville.’ (snip) From 1889 to 1930, a narrow gauge railroad called the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company ran up the whole peninsula.

The Long Beach depot was built between First and Second Streets on the east side of the track, which ran north along ‘B’ Street. A major destination in Long Beach was Tinker’s Hotel, later renamed the Long Beach Hotel, and built very close to the station. (snip)

Photo from: Unknown author – From old postcard, postmark on back states mailed July 31, 1909
Long Beach, Washington, ca 1909, looking north along the line of the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company, at an early tourist area called “Rubberneck Row”.

The boardwalk area near the station was known as ‘Rubberneck Row.’ Businesses existing in August 1911 that can be identified along Rubberneck Row from photographs (see images in this article) include, on the west side of the tracks, an establishment advertising ‘Baths’ (possibly the Crystal Baths, an indoor swimming pool), Milton York Candies, a ‘Postal Shop,’ and a soda fountain just across from the station advertising ‘Milk Shake.’”

This description of Long Beach could, in many ways, fit nearly any small beach resort town throughout the United States. Hotels and eateries were soon joined by shops and activities all designed with the seasonal tourist in mind.

The cousins with Marsh’s Free Museum in the background. 2010

Over the years, attractions in Long Beach have come to include carnival rides, an arcade, museums, go carts, bike and surrey rentals, mini golf, and horseback rides. No doubt I’ve missed an attraction or three.

Riding the mopeds 2005

Driving through downtown Long Beach is one of those traditions which has to be honored upon arrival. In summertime, the main drag through town is a visual feast, awash in brightly colored kites and flags, firmly tethered, usually slapping in the near constant wind. The storefronts display a rainbow of souvenir products: clothes, beach toys, and every knickknack imaginable.

Flower boxes spill over in a confusion of pinks, purples, and green, inviting visitors to sit on the adjacent benches and rest for a moment or two. Tourists stroll along, licking ice cream cones, snacking on elephant ears, or savoring a doughnut from the local bakery.

The main draw for Long Beach is, however, found in its name: beach. At the north end of the business district, a left turn brings into view the large arch which proclaims that you have arrived at The World’s Longest Beach. Ahead of you are sand dunes and, finally, the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Having a sizzling good time visiting some of the sights a few years back

My first trip to Long Beach was 1961… at least that’s the first preserved photographic evidence. There are 8 mm home movies of our family along with my parent’s good friends,Walt and Barbara Lloid, and their family at Long Beach that summer.

While that was the only time we vacationed with the Lloid’s, over the next ten to fifteen years, we went every summer, joining my grandparents, who also stayed at the Klipsan Beach cottages. Every day of those two weeks was an adventure for a child: digging in the sand, playing at the ocean’s edge, beach fires every night.

But the special days were those when we drove to downtown Long Beach. We would visit Marsh’s Free Museum, drive the bumper cars and go to the carnival, see the World’s Largest Frying Pan, and buy candy at Milton York. It was a highlight of every visit.

By my own estimation, I’ve been to Long Beach at least once a year for 50 of the last 61 years. My parents gave our family a gift beyond compare when, in 1991, they decided to purchase a condominium at Long Beach. That year, my sister and I took our (then) two children – ages two and one and a half – to the beach and thus brought another generation into our long family tradition.

It would be impossible to encapsulate every single experience at Long Beach in this article. Even as I contemplated what to write, I simply could not pluck the most memorable event from the dozens which floated to the top.

Surry fun with the hubby and kids 2003

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. When I put Long Beach on my article calendar, I noted that it dovetailed with a planned trip with the hubby and sister. Great, I thought, I can get a current photo. We arrived on Wednesday, January 12, took care of some condo business, walked on the beach, met up with some friends, and then nature said ‘here’s your experience.’ On Friday, January 14,  a mostly underwater volcano in Tonga erupted, it produced tsunami waves which spread across the Pacific Ocean. We heard the news on Friday night just before bed.

The author January 13, 2022

It didn’t take long for the Infallible Wikipedia to share:

“The National Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami advisory along the West Coast of the United States and British Columbia, Canada. The advisory contained all U.S. areas along the West Coast from Southern California to Alaska. Beaches were closed, and coastal residents were requested to move to higher grounds. A surfing contest with over 100 participants was cancelled in Santa Cruz, California. Tsunami waves measuring 0.30–0.61 metres (1–2 ft) were expected to hit the shores as early as 7:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (UTC−8) along the Central Coast. San Francisco was expected to receive waves at 8:10. The highest tsunami waves are expected one to two hours after the arrival of the first waves. A tsunami advisory was put in place for the entirety of Hawaii. Advisories in Canada were issued along the North and Central coasts of British Columbia, along with the Haida Gwaii archipelago and Vancouver Island. No evacuation order was issued, but people were urged to avoid beaches and marinas. The warning level was low due to the height of reported waves, as they were below the 91 centimetres (36 in) threshold which would warrant an upgrade.

National Weather Service alert from January 15, 2022

Anyone who has been on the west coast has, no doubt seen, the blue tsunami evacuation route signs. I had considered, many times, what my strategy would be IF a tsunami were ever to come ashore while I was at Long Beach. Which is why I was always careful to have my wallet, car keys, shoes, and any other ‘can’t live without’ items next to the bed each night. Even if I was only going for a walk to the beach I always had the car key, ID and a credit card ‘just in case’ safely zipped in a pocket.

As I lay in bed about to go to sleep, I wondered if that would be the night when the sirens would wake us and we’d have to evacuate. Thankfully, that was not the case. We did have to leave fairly early the next morning so we did not get to see any of the impacts.

And, although it wasn’t a full tsunami event, yet another Long Beach experience is added to the already rich storehouse of memories. Thanks Mother Nature, that was enough excitement for 2022.

The links: