The J. M. Clayton Seafood Company was founded back in 1890 as an oyster-shucking and packing facility in Hoopersville, Maryland. But founder Captain John Morgan Clayton (called Captain Johnnie) soon saw that the future was in the rich Chesapeake Bay blue crab. He began to pick and pack the crabmeat under the name Epicure, eventually relocating the company to the town of Cambridge, on the Choptank River, where it remains today. It’s the oldest crab-processing business in the world.
Brothers Jack, Bill, and Joe Brooks are the fourth generation of the extended Clayton family to run the business, with fifth generation Clay Brooks not far behind. Many generations of highly skilled crab pickers, too, have worked for J.M. Clayton. Yet when there’s a shortage of pickers there’s always the Quik Pik, the world’s first automatic crab-picking machine, which was invented in 1973 by J. Clayton Brooks, along with business associates Calvert Tolley and Ted Reinke.