When Craftsmanship and Utility Make for the Perfect Shuck: The KRAKEN Oyster Grip
To some, shucking oysters is an art of speed and quality. To others, it’s a well-accepted challenge of will and might. For many, however, the whole idea of shucking sounds like a trip to the emergency room.
I came across the KRAKEN Oyster Grip at the Damariscotta Oyster Celebration and marveled over its beauty and simplicity, yet careful craftsmanship and concept. It dawned on me that so many people out there love oysters, but they lack the experience and steady hands to trust themselves in opening these divine morsels. Having an “assistant” to this effort makes home shucking approachable and easy, and that’s really important if you’re used to having them shucked for you at a restaurant or bar. The KRAKEN breaks down that barrier.
As we adapt to spending more time indoors, it’s a great opportunity for us to find a way to enjoy our favorite foods without the risk, which is why I am thrilled to share more about the product and the amazing couple behind the scenes. I believe that every oyster lover who is shucking at home should own something especially dedicated to their shellfish affinity – and bonus points for another gorgeous addition to the kitchen shelf!
Without further ado, I introduce you to Sue and John, the founders of the KRAKEN Oyster Grip and Latitude 43 Designs.
Virginia: Sue, how did this all start? What was the reason behind creating the KRAKEN?
Sue: John and I had a love of oysters but weren’t particularly fond of or comfortable with shucking. After a few cocktails and a shucking knife in your hand… a night can go south really quick. So we started searching different ideas to help us shuck. Several shuck assists, blocks, choppers, and wedges were out there of all different materials, designs, and prices. We came across a design from a defunct company from the UK that went out of business over 20 years ago. With their design in mind, we tweaked it eliminating any screws, nails, staples, etc., and replaced them with traditional wood dowel joinery that is used in boat building and fine furniture making. After much trial and error, and a lot more error it seemed, our design evolved to where we loved it. Not only was it now a piece of fine art; it worked beautifully, making it a game changer for us.
Virginia: Who is the team behind the KRAKEN?
Sue: Our Team? We’re a team of 2. John handcrafts each in small batches in our basement here in Raymond, Maine with locally sourced maple and cherry. I mostly stay out of his way doing the sales and marketing.
We launched the KRAKEN at the New England Made Trade Show Spring 2019 and began filling orders immediately. We showed at Damariscotta Oyster Celebration, Pemaquid Oyster Festival, Maine Oyster Festival at Thompson’s Point shucking with Getchell’s Oysters, and sold at Harvest on the Harbor Culinary Market the following day.
We took out an ad in Down East Magazine in November and the phone started to ring. We have now shipped KRAKEN as far south as Key West, northwest to Washington state, all along the eastern seaboard and internationally to Canada and France.
Virginia: As “Mainers”, what’s so special about Maine oysters? 😉
Sue: Besides them being in our back yard? Plump and meaty, Maine oysters are recognized worldwide for their briny flavor of our cold clean ocean waters. Restaurants and fish markets scramble to feature them including popular oyster festivals, raw bars, and offering buck-a-shuck half shell slurps. As you mentioned in your podcast, “oysters bring people together.” It’s a thing.
Then COVID happened. Restaurants abruptly stopped buying oysters from the oyster farmers. Oyster buying and selling suddenly changed. Oyster lovers started turning to purchasing directly from oyster farms curbside, on line, and farmers markets. Shucking at home can often be a daunting and frustrating experience. That’s where Maine’s KRAKEN Oyster Grip came to the rescue making it easier and safer to shuck at home. It’s a shuck assist helping the “shuck-shy” practice safe shucking.
Virginia: What other products does Latitude 43 offer?
Sue: With oysters in mind we scoured many avenues to obtain and offer quality items that we feel best complimented KRAKEN. In March, we launched our website KrakenOysterGrip.com.
Virginia: Can we get a demo?
Sue: Yes! Here`s a link to a demonstration video by John using the KRAKEN. As you can tell, he’s not originally from Maine, but born in Northern Ireland and raised in London. The accent stuck.