December 7, 2023

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Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp Deal Lost It…$20 Million

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Welcome to Delicious or Distressing, where we rate recent food memes, videos, and other entertainment news. Last week we discussed the ‘Thanksgiving strangers’ inviting new guests to their table this year.

Red Lobster bet big on its $20 “Endless Shrimp” deal earlier this year. You may be wondering, at this juncture: Did that bet pay off? Dear reader, it did not. In fact, while foot traffic to the chain skyrocketed, it still managed to lose $20 million on the deal—a worthy reminder that Americans will get their money’s worth and more when there’s high-value crustaceans to be had. Whoever crunched the numbers as to how much shrimp the average consumer could and would house, I’m so sorry to report that you were far too conservative in your estimates.

Also this week, espresso martini enthusiasts can now wear the cocktail as a fragrance, if that’s something you’ve been wanting to do. A seltzer company released a green bean casserole-flavored seltz—and for one BA editor, it’s unsatisfactory for reasons that may surprise you. Lastly, Magnolia Bakery, of cupcake and banana pudding fame, is making THC-infused chocolate bars.

Read more below on this week’s food news around the internet.

It turns out that the limit does exist. At least, it probably should for Red Lobster. The seafood purveyor gave its Endless Shrimp promotion a permanent spot on the menu this June—and stans went simply bonkers for it. “My pants are unbuttoned,” posted one shrimped-out user on X, formerly Twitter. For $20, customers could choose two types of shrimp from the menu and stuff as much down their gobs as humanly possible. That was arguably too much shrimp: Traffic to Red Lobster’s 670 stores grew 4% year over year but the chain is now anticipating $20 million in losses after (it claims) pricing the deal too low. You’ll still be able to order Endless Shrimp at stores, but it’s now priced at $25. Still a deal, but on behalf of crustaceans everywhere, I’m rating this a 4.2/5 distressing. —Ali Francis, staff writer


NYC’s favorite cupcake and banana pudding chain shop Magnolia Bakery is entering the cannabis space, making edibles in partnership with Green Thumb Industries, it announced this week. We’re talking THC-infused chocolate bars in quintessential Magnolia flavors, red velvet and banana pudding, as part of Green Thumb’s new “Incredibles” line. Do I think this is a genius move? Yes. Of course. Magnolia Bakery has caught on that its desserts are great for people nursing the munchies (myself included). Even without cannabis I’ve considered its desserts to be “dank.” I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting these chocolates’ official drop, and I’ll report back if I do find them “incredible.” 4.1/5 delicious. —Julia Duarte, designer


Every time I think we’ve hit peak espresso martini we reach a new, heretofore unprecedented level of espresso martini, and I have to completely recalibrate my world view. The latest advancement in espresso martini-dom is an espresso martini perfume created by Absolut Vodka and Kahlua. If you for some reason want to smell both drunk and highly caffeinated, congratulations: Your day has come. Personally, I want to smell like a mysterious stranger who’s just returned from the beach, but if espresso martini is your scent of choice, more power to you I guess. A press release reveals that, in addition to the usual scent suspects you might expect like chocolate, coffee, and rum, the new perfume will also have notes of “Night Musk” and “Velvety Foam,” which I, for one, always assumed didn’t have a scent at all. I’m rating this one a musky, foamy 4.2/5 distressing. —Sam Stone, staff writer


I consider myself an aficionado of both fizzy water and casseroles. So after confirming that I was not, in fact, being trolled with a PR pitch for a green bean casserole-flavored sparkling water from beverage brand Aura Bora, I had to get my hands on a case. With flavor notes boasting “sweet, crunchy green beans” and “fresh sage,” I hoped it would be the earthy, savory seltzer of my dreams—or something even weirder. Alas, it wasn’t weird enough.

When I popped open a cold can, my mouth was greeted with delicate carbonation and the sweet and grassy essence of just-picked snap beans. Sadly, I didn’t get any sage. A blind taste test with my Certified Cicerone husband confirmed the missing herb—as well as my theory that I only picked up on the green beans because I knew what I was looking for. I was promised bizarre and ended up with a subtle, pleasant sparkling water I’d gladly guzzle in the summer months. If Aura Bora really wants to get weird, maybe next year they can team up with Campbell’s to clarify some cream of mushroom soup.

All is not lost, though, because having a few cans of this on your own Thanksgiving table might just be a conversation starter—sparing you one with your creepy uncle who’s glad they’re finally banning all those books. That itself is worth its weight in gold (or at least $33). 2.5/5 delicious. —Emily Farris, senior commerce writer

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