9 Essential Facts for the Crustacean Enthusiast

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1. Let them eat lobster! In colonial America, lobster wasn’t the delicacy it is today. In fact, it was so cheap and plentiful, it was a staple for prisoners and servants. One group of servants from Massachusetts actually grew so tired of eating lobster that they took their employers to court, where a judge ruled that lobster was to be served to them no more than three times a week.

2. Judge them not by the color of their skin. In their ocean habitat, lobsters are brown. (They turn red when you cook them.) However, there are a few notable exceptions. About one in every 4 million lobsters is born with a rare genetic defect that turns it blue. Sadly, these prized critters rarely survive to adulthood. After all, a bright blue crustacean crawling around the ocean floor is simply easier for predators to spot. Yellow lobsters are even more uncommon, making up only one in every 30 million. But if you end up with a yellow or blue one on your plate, don’t worry; lobsters of all hues are equally delicious.

3. A century of meat. Most lobsters weigh between 1.5 and 2 lbs., but one lumbering beast caught off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1977 measured 3.5 feet from claw to tail and weighed 44 lbs. How does a lobster put on that sort of weight? With age. He was 100 years old.

4. Showing too much leg. In 2003, the seafood chain Red Lobster ran a promotion offering customers $20 all-you-can-eat snow crab legs. The gimmick was both incredibly successful and a mistake. Hungry seafood lovers flocked to the restaurants, where most of them plowed through a lot more crab than the company anticipated. Even when Red Lobster raised the price to $25 per person, it still lost money on the deal.

5. Everything you ever wanted to know about seafood, but were afraid to ask. In 2010, Red Lobster restaurants across America began equipping their wait staff with computer-based “Seafood Expert Encyclopedias.” The technology allows waiters to look up the answer to any seafood-related question posed to them. So ask away.

6. The silent treatment. In Disney’s 1940 animated film Pinocchio, Mel Blanc played the character of Gideon the Cat, one of the scoundrels who introduces Pinocchio to the world of vice. Blanc, who famously voiced Bugs Bunny, recorded an entire movie’s worth of dialogue for Gideon. But during post-production, Disney decided that the character would be cuter if he was mute. All of Blanc’s lines were cut, except for three burps, which you can hear during the brief scene at the Red Lobster Inn.

7. A parent’s job is never done. Red Lobster and Olive Garden are both owned by Darden Restaurants, a parent company that’s pretty overprotective. In 2010, Darden filed suit against a San Diego T.G.I. Friday’s for running a “never ending shrimp” promotion. Darden argued that the campaign combined Olive Garden’s “never ending pasta bowl” with Red Lobster’s “endless shrimp” in a way that “willfully attempted to confuse and mislead consumers.” The case is still tied up in court, where lawyers are dealing with “never ending paperwork.”

8. Out of the pot and into the fire. In October 2010, British inventor Simon Buckhaven introduced the world to a lethal device known as The Crustastun. It might look like a harmless computer scanner, but it’s designed to zap a lobster with an electric shock, killing it in less than two seconds. Animal-rights groups have praised the invention as a more humane method of killing lobsters—at least more humane than boiling them alive.

9. Imagine all the lobsters. In 1979, The B-52s song “Rock Lobster” became the band’s first to hit the Billboard Top 100. At the time, former Beatle John Lennon had been away from music for about three years, but after hearing “Rock Lobster,” he was supposedly inspired to start writing music again. Lennon said the song moved him because it “sounds just like Yoko’s music.” It’s unclear whether or not that was a compliment.

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August 14, 2011 - 7:35pm
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