On Buttered Prawn Balls as Lobster
When I first saw the ad for Long John Silvers’s Buttered Lobster Bites™ my thought was that this had to’ve been a bright blue and yellow carton filled with the batter fried end result of some horrible technology that I didn’t even want to think about: some new method of lobster generation that involved petri dishes but not salt water; some new high pressure hose system to flush out previously discarded molecules of lobster flesh. I pictured PhD scientists working on laboratory “lobster” meat or the mechanics of shell flushing that would adhere to minimal food safety standards and meet internal pro forma for new product profit margin.
Which would be bad enough – though it’s my own twisted thought process, and, as it happens, inaccurate. Closer to the truth is that LJS lobbied the FDA to get langostinos classified as lobsters. Ah – there’s your profit margin. Below is the langostino (prawn) that the FDA says is now a lobster.
And here’s a little gem from the press release (and just think of the meetings and man-hours that went into writing that thing. I’m all for capitalism, but is this really the best use of our brains and energy? All this time and energy and money getting the FDA to change a definition; to do market research on how fake they can get the lobster and still have people buy it; even to write this horrible piece of shit press release). It gives me Wallace-ian fantods.
“Our customers tell us they crave the taste of lobster, but they don’t have $20 to spend – and an hour to waste – in order to get it,” said Don Gates, Director of Marketing for Long John Silver’s. “Now, with the introduction of our new Buttered Lobster Bites, customers can enjoy the taste of real langostino lobster at a fast food restaurant, served quickly and at a great price.”
I’m sure that’s true. I’m sure a lot of customers say a lot of things. What gets me, though, is, do you really want lobster if you simultaneously don’t want to “waste” an hour and spend $20 bucks? Isn’t that part of the whole lobster dining experience? That it’s a treat? When did everything become appropriate for all the time? It seems like something right out of a social satire from the last century – wanting everything, wanting it now, and settling for a simulacrum of the actual experience, as long as the lobbyists can wangle the word “lobster” onto the package without a lawsuit. This is everything I hate about “marketing.” We used to, I don’t know, make things. Or make them better. Our bright minds worked on solving problems. Now we seem to devote so much of our resources to fudging at the margins. I find it disorienting, I guess. I mean, maybe we’ve just got so much time and energy and money that it doesn’t matter? We’re out of diseases to cure, inequities to address? Oh. Wait.
Anyway. Here’s a photo I took of a Canadian McDonald’s (note the backpacker-ish maple leaf, to distinguish it from those louche American McDonald’ses). But at least the lobster here is (probably) local, and (probably) lobster (or the scavenged remains of what were once real lobsters). I don’t think I’ll ever want lobster from Micky D’s, but still.
Also, I’m a little late to the game – some decent blog posts on the how stupid LSJ thinks we must be to believe that real lobster can be had buttered and fried into little balls for 3 bucks a throw are here and here.