The straight answers on everything you thought you knew about oysters.

man holding freshly shucked oyster
Photography by Melanie Acevedo
| Credit: Photography by Melanie Acevedo

Myth #1: They’re a fancy food 

Don't let their highfalutin reputation fool you. People have been eating oysters forever; oyster stands were once as common in New York City as hot dog carts are today. Oysters— good ones!—can be found for around a dollar a pop at seafood markets (a bargain compared to restaurant prices), making them an inexpensive way to fun up your party. You can also join the Walrus and Carpenter Oysters farm share and get 100 oysters for $110 (shucking lessons included).

Myth #2: You should eat oysters only in months with an R in the name

The idea that you shouldn't eat oysters from May through August probably started in the days before refrigeration. Today's oysters go from water to ice and then to a refrigerated truck, so that's no longer a concern. The summer is also when many oysters reproduce, which means they may be milky when they're spawning and thin right afterward and neither option makes for great eating. Many oyster farmers raise some sterile oysters, so spawning isn't an issue.

Myth #3: Oysters are an aphrodisiac

Jury's still out on this one. Sure, there's anecdotal evidence for this claim, plus oysters happen to be a great source of zinc, which can help testosterone production. Experts tend to attribute any friskiness to a placebo effect, but we say if eating oysters does it for you, go for it!

Myth #4: Bigger oysters are better

There's no difference in the quality of smaller versus larger oysters, says Jules Opton-Himmel of Walrus and Carpenter Oysters. Bigger oysters are just older (or faster growers) than smaller ones.

Myth #5: Eating raw oysters is risky

Yes, raw oysters can make you sick, but there are strict government regulations to help reduce the risk. "Every oyster has to be accounted for, which protects the consumer," says Opton-Himmel. And despite what you may have heard, hot sauce, lemon juice, or alcohol won't protect you (sorry!). If you're concerned, your best bet is to bake, roast, or fry 'em.