You'll Probably Never Guess What Rocky Mountain Oysters Actually Are

Meat was a major part of the cowboy diet, says History Hit, and building homesteads in remote locations and herding cattle for months on end required careful culinary planning. According to Bulk Beef Jerky, fresh foods were seldom available, so they would have to keep things like beef jerky and dried fruit on hand. Rocky Mountain oysters are sourced, not in the Pacific Ocean, but in the Rockies, where the cattle is rustled. So if Rocky Mountain oysters aren't oysters, what are they?  

Well, they're a euphemism. As a result of castrating bulls to make them more docile, certain protein-rich organs became available, and ranchers would cook these fresh meats or "calf fries" over open fires (via USA Today). But cowboys were by no means the first to take bites out of — let's just say it — testicles. Thrillist writes that Romans thought eating bull testes would boost virility and health, and considered the organs to be aphrodisiacs.

A protein-packed novelty

According to What's Cooking America, Rocky Mountain oysters require a bit of gumption to eat. Bruce's Bar has been serving customers Rocky Mountain oysters since 1957, reports NPR, and Bruce's kitchen manager, Dennis Guffy has been cooking up the delicacies for over four decades. Guffy has witnessed the pause before a "prairie oyster" virgin takes their first bite and advises skeptics, "They're actually really good. Just don't think of what you're eating when you eat it, okay?"

Thrillist says that ketchup, hot sauce, or mayonnaise often accompany the dish, but Canadians prefer demi-glace, while Americans tend to dip the fried pieces into cocktail sauce. Atlas Obscura likens the food's texture to calamari and suggests cutting the larger pieces before they're breaded and fried.

While modern-day foodies may grimace at the thought of eating testes, in places like Colorado and Montana, the delicacies have not only remained but festivals are held in their honor. In Montana, the Testy Festy serves ravenous eaters over 50,000 pounds of them each year, per Thrillist. If a testes-eating gathering isn't your thing, you can find Rocky Mountain oysters served at the Rockies' baseball stadium in Denver, Colorado, suggests Atlas Obscura.

Can't stomach the thought of biting into fried testicles? You can toss back a pint of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, a beer brewed with them.