City Cast

What’s The Deal With Rocky Mountain Oysters?

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on May 24   |   Updated on June 20

Known also as prairie oysters, calf fry, or cowboy caviar — but definitely not chicken nuggets — Rocky Mountain oysters are loved and loathed in Colorado.

If you’ve had them before, you’ve achieved a Colorado rite of passage. If you haven’t, well … these aren’t your typical bivalves of the sea. Let me cut right to the chase: Rocky Mountain oysters are sliced, breaded, deep fried bull testicles often served with a heaping ramiken of horseradish or cocktail sauce. Here’s the lowdown:

🦪 What do they taste like? People often say gamey with the texture akin to fried calamari — that is, in my opinion, kind of bland and rubbery. But there are also plenty of people who love them. Just check out this fascinating blog from Modern Farmer.

🌎 Where did they come from? As cultures across the globe have been consuming all different animal parts for millenia, it’s virtually impossible to credit one single origin. But here in Colorado, most experts believe it started with ranchers of the Old West who didn’t want to waste any part of an animal being harvested for food.

🦬 Are they a Colorado thing? Kinda. Bull testicles are eaten in a lot of places that are, or once were, rural ranching communities. But Colorado seems to have really run with them. I like how William Philpott, an associate professor of history at DU, put it in this interview with Matador Network:

  • “The association of Rocky Mountain oysters with Colorado … had a lot to do with post-World War II Colorado boosters celebrating the dish, holding it up as the kind of thing that defined the ‘real’ Colorado in a rapidly changing West … What could be more Colorado than cattle, and what could be manlier than balls?”

🍽️ Where can I get them? Our longstanding Old West-themed restaurants like Buckhorn Exchange and The Fort are most notorious for having Rocky Mountain oysters. But I’ve heard you can also find them at Coors Field, The Rusty Bucket (Lakewood), Golden Flame Hot Wings, and Willy’s Wings (Morrison).

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