In the United States, almost all commercially available duck is produced from strains of the white Pekin duck domesticated in China about two thousand years ago. Pekin ducks were first imported in the late 1800s and used primarily by ethnic groups in the preparation of traditional dishes. Wild duck was generally the only duck used in restaurant kitchens. Over time, duck-breeding techniques improved, and relatives of the original Pekins found their way onto the restaurant (and home) table.
The commercial breeding of ducks began in earnest about a hundred years ago in California. Significant production of Pekin duck also took place on Long Island, New York, early in the development of the industry. It was from these producers that the name Long Island duck (or duckling) originated. The duck industry was so productive on Long Island that, at one time, this small stretch of land was producing over 60 percent of the nation’s farm-raised duck.