Exhibit D---Lies So Big and So Common That We Rarely Even Notice Them Anymore
ENDLESS SHRIMP. NEVER-ENDING SALADS. MOUNTAINS OF FLOUNDER SO HIGH THAT YOU CAN’T SEE THE TOP.
I heard an investigative news report on the radio about the legality of phrases like “World’s Best Hamburger.” The legal community has a term called “Puffery,” that stands for acceptable exaggeration based on the, supposedly, commonly-held belief that potential customers know that certain words and phrases are, at best, exaggerations, or at worst, acceptable outright lies. That’s how terrible chain restaurants like Red Lobster can offer promotions like “Endless Shrimp.”
Obviously, their shrimp supply is not literally endless. There’s an end to it. They just have a lot of shrimp. Endless implies that the shrimp supply goes on forever, like the life span of Styrofoam or the plot to a soap opera. I can’t help but picture a countrified King Midas figure. Everything he touches turns to crispy, golden-brown shrimp.
How can Red Lobster legally make this claim, you ask? It’s the same rationale that’s behind every “All You Can Eat” promotion ever. ALL you CAN eat will kill you. Any doctor will tell you that. Have you ever seen the Monty Python movie, “The Meaning of Life”? There’s a scene where an obese British man is being over-served by a solicitous British waiter. The waiter keeps bringing him dish after dish. The man eats them all. Finally, the man is so full that he claims that he can’t eat another bite, but the waiter forces an after-dinner mint on him. The man eats it and then explodes. It’s funny. It’s also what would happen if you TRULY ate all the shrimp that your digestive system was capable of devouring. The shrimp’s not endless. Your ability to consume shrimp also has an end. Yeah, we’re the fattest country ever, but even we can’t suck down all the shrimp in the sea. Red Lobster knows this. That’s why they can offer us such unicorn-ride fantasy meals as Endless Shrimp.
I’m sure that somewhere in America, probably in Texas, there’s some dumb hick who’s made it his mission in life to see just how many shrimps he can put away in one meal. You’d think that the owners of a chain as profitable and enduring as Red Lobster would discourage such people from frequenting their establishments. But, no! Much like most crack dealers, they know that monetizing the destructive behavior of addicts is always good business and will pay for your beach house.
False ideas like “Endless Shrimp” SHOULD be cautionary tales relegated to health text books, not a regular part of Friday night date night with Sharlene. “Limitless Scallops” should be the title to a “Whatever You Do, Don’t Act Like Bob” scary filmstrip shown to elementary school kids to scare them away from heart-attack-in-the-making factories like Red Lobster, instead being one left turn away from half of the highway exit ramps off every major street in America.
Why wasn’t there a scene in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” where Ariel finally met Louie the Lobster, her childhood pen-pal, in person, and hid him from a horrific fate where his final resting place involved being a featured part of a “Fisherman’s Delight”? It’s not very-Disney, but it would have helped us as a country.
I’m not anti-seafood. I’m anti-bullshit.
If you like fresh seafood, drive to the coast or go fishing. If you live for fresh Maine lobster, don’t expect to find it in Kansas. If you own a Red Lobster, for God’s sake, you owe us all enough money to cover our blood pressure medication and our specialized Gout Shoes.