Michael Spressler recently stopped by one of his favorite restaurants to enjoy one of his go-to appetizers, but he walked away with something a lot more valuable: a pearl that could be worth thousands of dollars.
The New Jersey resident and his wife Maria have been going to The Lobster House Restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey, for 34 years, but their last visit to the local hot spot over President’s’ Day weekend was unlike any other.
After ordering a dozen clams on the half shell, Spressler proceeded to chow down. It wasn't until he was almost finished eating that he noticed something unusual in one of the clams.
"I was down to the 12th one and when I picked it up on the fork it looked kinda heavy, but I didn’t think nothing of it," Spressler told CBS affiliate KYW-TV. "Then when I started to eat it, I noticed something was in my mouth. I actually thought one of my tooth broke."
Maria Spressler described the experience as a "once in a lifetime event" and said the discovery was shocking, to say the least.
"He’s eaten dozens and dozens of clams and we’ve never found anything like that so it was pretty exciting," she said.
Keith Laudeman, the restaurant owner, echoed those statements in a phone interview with TODAY Food.
"It’s pretty rare," he explained. "We’ve seen small ones that aren’t really pearls but nothing like this."
The Lobster House Restaurant has been run by the same family for 100 years and Laudeman said he's surprised that the story has gone viral so quickly.
"People all over the country are calling me," he said, adding that it's certainly good for business.
The Spresslers are longtime customers of The Lobster House Restaurant and were actually there that day to celebrate 34 years of visiting the local hot spot.
“Yeah, we first came here Presidents’ Day weekend in 1987,” Spressler said.
The restaurant posted about the rare find on its Facebook page and many of its followers were amazed. But some skeptics were confused and thought that only oysters created pearls — and the restaurant was quick to chime in.
"Both produce pearls. Most common in oysters but clams and mussels too. It’s the bivalve’s reaction to debris or grit," they wrote.
The Spresslers walked away with a potentially pricy souvenir — the 8.8-millimeter pearl could sell for thousands — but they have no plans to make money off of it.
“I would like to have it set into a nice piece of jewelry, maybe a mermaid or something nautical,” said Maria. “It’s a beautiful remembrance of that day and what we have is so special."