Softshell crabs seize the Holy City

An oral history of Charleston's frenzied springtime ritual

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Softshell crab season came early this year.

In the eyes of seafood dealers from Georgia to Maryland who harvest blue crabs on the cusp of shedding their exoskeletons, that’s a problem. Crabs are smaller and scantier in the last days of winter, while the prices of everything required to usher a crab from water to plate are rising. Softie merchants have been forced to explain and explain again why they’re charging $7 wholesale for an itty-bitty specimen that’s short a few legs.


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