All the species are believed to be wholesome as human food, and our own commonest species, Cardium edule, is very extensively sought after by persons not always of the lowest class in this country. It is said to be equally good raw or cooked, and its attractions when pickled, to bipeds of more than one class, are recorded in an amusing story.
A certain Parrot's loquacity had made her a favourite with all the members of a family, except the cook, whose resentment was incurred by Poll's thievish propensities. A jar of pickled cockles was on a shelf in the cupboard, and whenever the door was casually left open, the watchful bird failed not to pay it a visit, though always scolded when found out. One day Cook, coming suddenly into the kitchen, caught Poll in the act of emerging from the cupboard. Unable to restrain her wrath, she cried, "What! you've been at the pickled cockles again, have you?" and at the same instant dashed at the offending bird a tureen full of hot soup which was in her hand.
The poor bird was grievously scalded, and the consequences were the loss of all the plumage of her head, and of all her wonted garrulity. Not a word was uttered for weeks, and it was feared she had become hopelessly silent, when, one day, just as the new feathers of her head were beginning to sprout, a gentleman who was bald happened to call. Struck with the similarity of condition displayed by the stranger's smooth crown to her own, Poll broke forth, vociferating with peculiar emphasis, "What! you've been at the pickled cockles, have you?"