ST. MARTIN PARISH, La. (KPEL News) - As a state, we harvest somewhere between 120 to 150 million pounds of crawfish in the state, and the industry rakes in millions of dollars from that harvest.

In fact, one of the largest industries in Louisiana is the crawfish industry, which provides a ton of those delicious crustaceans not just to everyone in the state, but around the country.

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This year, the state is struggling, with the harvest being way down and prices being way up. Things are so bad that Gov. Jeff Landry has issued a disaster declaration

Louisiana has a long history of crawfish being a vital part of Louisiana culture - dating all the way back to the indigenous tribes who were here before the earliest Europeans. The Houma tribe respected the crawfish, which was abundant in the swamps of south Louisiana because they didn't back down from a fight and instead raised their claws to fight when threatened.

However, as much as they were revered, they were also a symbol of poverty when it came to using them as food, according to Kirby Verret, an elder of the Houma tribe, as he explained to the LSU Library in a history podcast.

Read More: Crawfish, Cajuns, and Native Americans: The History of Crawfish Season in South Louisiana

Since then, our feelings about crawfish have changed, and they've become a big part of Louisiana's food culture.

Did you know, however, that the Louisiana legislature named a city in south Louisiana the "Crawfish Capital of the World" in 1959? The very next year, the town celebrated its very first crawfish festival.

Breaux Bridge: The Crawfish Capital of the World

The website Only In Your State did a deep dive into the history of Breaux Bridge as the king of crawfish.

According to their research, the first time that crawfish appeared on a restaurant menu was in Breaux Bridge in the 1920s, when the wife of Mr. Charles Hebert, a Breaux Bridge local, had the idea to put crawfish on their menu.

Like the Houma tribe, the people of the region saw crawfish as a good source of protein. Given how in abundance the mudbugs were, it worked out well for poor Cajuns living in the area.

Breaux Bridge was also the home of crawfish étouffée, and many area restaurants quickly added various crawfish dishes to their menus.

"It’s believed that Cajun settlers modified lobster recipes, substituting crawfish for their bigger cousin," Only In Your State stated in its article. "It didn’t take long for those recipes to reach larger cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and then things really kicked into high gear."

"Louisiana Legislation officially declared Breaux Bridge as the 'Crawfish Capital of the World' in 1959," the site added.

That paved the way for the Crawfish Festival, which kicked off for the first time one year later, 1960.

We Do We Love Crawfish Now?

People love crawfish for its unique flavor, especially in dishes like Cajun cuisine. The spicy and tasty seasoning, combined with the tender meat, provides a distinct and enjoyable culinary experience in the modern era.

Cultural traditions play a big part in the love for crawfish. Events like crawfish boils have become social gatherings where people peel and share crawfish, creating a sense of togetherness and fun. The messy, hands-on nature of eating crawfish adds a casual and enjoyable element to the dining experience.

The seasonal availability of crawfish also contributes to their appeal. When crawfish are in abundance, there's a sense of anticipation and excitement. Festivals and gatherings focused on crawfish showcase their cultural importance, making them more than just food – they become a symbol of community, shared joy, and culinary heritage.

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In essence, people love crawfish for its tasty and unique flavor, the cultural traditions associated with events like crawfish boils, the social experience of sharing them, and the seasonal excitement surrounding their availability.

And we have Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, the Crawfish Capital of the World, to thank for that.

A Traditional Louisiana Crawfish Boil (According to AI)

We asked an AI art generator to draw what it thinks a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil looks like, and these are the (horrifying) results.

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