- We spent six hours at Red Lobster, eating as many shrimp as we possibly could to celebrate Shrimpsgiving 2018.
- We consumed 350 shrimp as part of the chain’s Endless Shrimp deal, our third year in a row stuffing ourselves with shrimp for hours.
- But, as the hours rolled on, we realised – we’ll never shrimp again. Here’s why.
It was Endless Shrimp.
For three years, we have consumed the pink jewels of the ocean. For three years, we have spent one long day gorging ourselves, striving to meet new goals and best our shrimpy limits. And, for three years, we have succeeded.
But this year, it wasn’t easy.
We ventured to Red Lobster for our annual Endless Shrimp outing two months ago. This year, unlike years past, we struggled to keep the holiday spirit in our hearts at Shrimpsgiving and in the weeks that followed. Against the backdrop of our familiar booth and all-too-familiar Mumford & Sons soundtrack, we craved… change.
Let us take you on a journey that we have gone on before. But this time, it is the same, yet so different:
The familiar intersection: the corner of 7th Avenue and 41st Street, a spot we rarely visit except to pay tribute on Shrimpsgiving.
The red lobster himself loomed above, seemingly saying, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
And for another year, Endless Shrimp was resurrected, a shrimpy Lazarus.
The booth that haunts our dreams was ready, waiting.
Our reputation preceded us. But, one absence left a gaping hole in our hearts — Jonathan, our steady Virgil through the hellish circles of shrimp, was nowhere to be found.
Still, we forged on, resisting the Cheddar Bay Biscuit’s siren song.
We got salad the way we know one must — simple, with Italian dressing on the side, a fittingly spartan start to the decadent and demanding feast.
And so, it began.
Shrimp count: 1
As Red Lobster is wont to do, the chain introduced two new flavours for Endless Shrimp: Crunchy Fiesta Shrimp and Sesame-Ginger Grilled Shrimp.
The Sesame-Ginger is an Endless Shrimp power player. It’s innovative, but not sickeningly gluttonous as you down dozens of shrimp.
The ginger adds a cleanly, fresh flavour — not fatty or sugary — that allows you to go back for more.
And, the sesame sweetness cuts through the flavour fatigue without drowning the shrimp in sauce.
The Fiesta Shrimp is another story — perhaps even the opposite. It is hard to think of a dish less suited for Endless Shrimp than these nacho cheese-drenched crustaceans.
We’ll admit — the first taste is as good as anything fried and drenched in cheese could be. But, as the shrimp grow soggy and the bellies grow full, it is hard to justify the presence of this nacho shrimp on the menu. It’s beyond decadent — it’s delusional.
As for sides, we barely spared this tomato and mozzarella dish a glance, as we were so single-minded in our focus on the shrimp.
Shrimp count: 51
Things started out well enough.
Shrimping wasn’t easy, per se. It never is. But, we chugged along pretty happily as we shot a couple dozen shrimp down our gullets.
But, as the refills rolled in like the rising tide, we realised something was amiss. The Mumford & Sons soundtrack was almost eerie in its near-perfect repetition of Shrimpsgivings past.
Shrimp count: 81
We tried to distract ourselves with the familiar comfort of grilled shrimp, scampi and videos of paddling pleopods, but the weight of our mission grew tenfold.
This year, we had pledged to consume 350 shrimp between the two of us, an increase over years past. And, while the shrimp were going down easy at first, we knew the good times couldn’t last.
Shrimp count: 104
We attempted to hydrate with the clean and clear option of simple H2O. But the pressure of the increased goal weighed on our minds and our stomachs.
We tried to mix things up with the Tiki Passion Punch, a sweet alcoholic treat that we hoped would numb the existential dread and jazz up the meal. The drink was good, but our minds could not rest easy.
Maybe, just maybe, we thought to ourselves, it was time to let the old ways die. It takes a lot to change a shrimp, as we can see in Red Lobster’s newest flavours. Hell, it takes a lot to try.
But, maybe it’s not enough. Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.
Shrimp count: 189
There was one bright spot on the horizon: the fabled popcorn shrimp.
We held out to the individual 100-shrimp mark, then immediately broke down and ordered the more numbers-friendly nuggets of shrimpy goodness. As always, the popcorn is good, but the coconut popcorn shrimp is divine.
Shrimp count: 258
But even the popcorn shrimp could not prevent the dread shrimp madness. Kate was afflicted to a degree that is rare to experience and come back unchanged. She was far from the shallow now.
Shrimp count: 183
Mumford & Sons returned as the soundtrack looped. It felt as if we ourselves were stuck in a closed=circuit loop of Shrimpsgivings past, as even the day replayed itself to the dulcet and radio-friendly tones of Marcus Mumford and his so-called “sons.”
Shrimp count: 223
That’s when we realised, as we were chasing our tails trying to reach a shrimpy peace, the task was truly Sisyphean. Something must change.
Endless Shrimp is a truly endless affair. What can Red Lobster do to keep shrimp super-fans engaged, year after year? We know many return to the chain for the deal — but, for us, the experience has finally lost its shrimpy sheen.
And, what of us? Perhaps it’s not Endless Shrimp that must change, but your intrepid shrimpateers. Are we just jaded in the way of the shrimp, or must we bring in fresh blood? One thing is for sure: we have hit our limit, as Kate was forced to tap out before the 350 mark, leaving Hollis to rally alone.
We survived Shrimpsgiving 2018 and reached our mark — but only by the shell on our shrimp. Tell me somethin’, shrimp. Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?
We’re falling … out of love with Shrimpsgiving. It is hard to say if it is us or Red Lobster, but something must change.
Do we have regrets? Sure. If we knew it would be the last time, we would have broken our hearts in two, trying to save a part of the shrimp. Maybe we just aren’t made for endless food deals any more.
Don’t want to eat another shrimp. Don’t want to consume another pancake. Don’t want to know another deal. No other brand name falling off my lips. Don’t want to give my stomach away, to another endless food promotion. Or let another deal begin. Won’t even let the endless breadsticks in.
No, we’ll never shrimp again.
(Unless Red Lobster changes our minds in 2019.)
Shrimp count: 350