Calabash, North Carolina

Coordinates: 33°53′43″N 78°33′05″W / 33.89528°N 78.55139°W / 33.89528; -78.55139
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Calabash, North Carolina
Official seal of Calabash, North Carolina
Seafood Capital of the World
Calabash is located in North Carolina
Location within the state of North Carolina
Calabash is located in the United States
Calabash (the United States)
Coordinates: 33°53′43″N 78°33′05″W / 33.89528°N 78.55139°W / 33.89528; -78.55139
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
 • Total4.87 sq mi (12.62 km2)
 • Land4.53 sq mi (11.73 km2)
 • Water0.34 sq mi (0.88 km2)
Elevation30 ft (9 m)
 • Total2,011
 • Density443.93/sq mi (171.40/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area codes910, 472
FIPS code37-09540[3]
GNIS feature ID2405358[2]

Calabash is a small fishing town in Brunswick County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population of the town was 2,011.[4] It is known as the "Seafood Capital of the World" because of the town's seafood restaurants.


Calabash was named after the gourds that grew in the region,[5] which were used for drinking well water.[6] Since the 1930s, Calabash has been known for its distinctive style of fried seafood, which has come to be known as "Calabash Style."[7] The New York Times reported in 1983 that Calabash had 32 restaurants and about 180 residents. 40 years later, the number of restaurants was about the same but the town had around 2,000 residents.[8] Calabash style buffets are common in many eastern Carolina coastal towns. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is home to a large number of these restaurants, as the city is just 25 miles (40 km) from Calabash.

In 1998, a large portion of the town of Calabash split to form the town of Carolina Shores. The split came as the result of years of bickering over "sewer, garbage collection and sign restrictions".[9] The town limits of Carolina Shores currently interlock with those of Calabash.


Calabash is located in southwestern Brunswick County and its southwest border is the South Carolina state line. It is bordered to the northwest by the town of Carolina Shores, and the town of Sunset Beach lies to the east. The tidal Calabash River flows through the southern part of the town, leading southwest to the Little River in South Carolina, 3 miles (5 km) upstream from that river's mouth at Little River Inlet on the Atlantic Ocean.

The main road through the town is North Carolina Highway 179 (Beach Drive), leading west to U.S. Route 17 in South Carolina and east by a winding route 15 miles (24 km) to Shallotte.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town of Calabash has a total area of 3.7 square miles (9.5 km2), of which 3.3 square miles (8.6 km2) is land and 0.35 square miles (0.9 km2), or 9.27%, is water.[10]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[11]

Calabash is part of the Wilmington, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.

2020 census[edit]

Calabash racial composition[4]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 1,621 80.61%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 70 3.48%
Native American 19 0.94%
Asian 11 0.55%
Other/Mixed 91 4.53%
Hispanic or Latino 199 9.9%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 2,011 people, 812 households, and 415 families residing in the town.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 711 people, 377 households, and 232 families residing in the town. The population density was 501.5 inhabitants per square mile (193.6/km2). There were 508 housing units at an average density of 358.3 per square mile (138.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 93.25% White, 3.66% African American, 0.14% Asian, 2.25% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.66% of the population.

There were 377 households, out of which 11.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.5% were married couples living together, 6.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-traditional families (needs definition). 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.89 and the average family size was 2.32.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 9.7% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 19.4% from 25 to 44, 29.7% from 45 to 64, and 36.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 58 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $32,946, and the median income for a family was $38,403. Males had a median income of $27,202 versus $25,368 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,975. About 5.4% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 1.3% of those age 65 or over.


The Town Hall is currently located at 882 Persimmon Road SW.


The town's emergency services serve the communities of Calabash, Sunset Beach, and Carolina Shores.

In Popular Culture[edit]

Jimmy Durante, comedian and host of radio and television programs from 1947 to 1970, signed off each episode with his familiar national catchphrase: "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are." Durante revealed in 1966 that this was a tribute to his first wife, Jean, who had died in 1943: While driving across the country, the couple stopped and stayed in Calabash, whose name Jean had loved. "Mrs. Calabash" became his pet name for her. [12]


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Calabash, North Carolina
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  5. ^ "Calabash". Star-News. July 1, 2000. p. 21. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  6. ^ Proffitt, Martie (April 17, 1983). "Local history offers tasty tidbits". Star-News. pp. 1C. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  7. ^ "What is Calabash Seafood?". April 22, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  8. ^ Nash, Eleanor (August 5, 2023). "What is Calabash seafood and why do so many buffets in Myrtle Beach, SC serve it?". The Sun News.
  9. ^ Bowen, Shannan. "Carolina Shores celebrates 10-year split from Calabash". Star-News.
  10. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Calabash town, North Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  11. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  12. ^ NBC Monitor, January 25, 1975 Archived October 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine (sound clip at 48:08) From the Monitor Tribute Pages

External links[edit]