Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp promotion has become an iconic offering for the restaurant chain. For a fixed price, customers can eat unlimited shrimp during the promotion period. This leads many to wonder – is the endless shrimp truly endless? Or are there limits to how much shrimp one person can consume?
What is Endless Shrimp?
Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp promotion began in 1994 and has been bringing customers back every year since. For a fixed price, diners can eat unlimited shrimp with a choice of sides. The shrimp is usually grilled or fried coconut shrimp served on skewers.
The promotion runs for a limited time, usually from late August through November. During this period, Red Lobster heavily advertises the unlimited shrimp offer to draw in customers. Some locations extend the offer until mid-December depending on local demand.
What are the Rules of Endless Shrimp?
While Endless Shrimp may sound straightforward, there are some limitations in place:
– The offer applies to unlimited shrimp only. Sides and drinks are not included.
– Only shrimp ordered as part of the Endless Shrimp promotion are unlimited. Any extra shrimp ordered outside of the deal will cost extra.
– Endless Shrimp is valid for dine-in only. To-go orders allow one order per person.
– Membership in the My Red Lobster Rewards loyalty program is required to receive discounts on Endless Shrimp.
– Shrimp ordered during Endless Shrimp cannot be shared. The unlimited shrimp is only for the individual who ordered it.
– Red Lobster reserves the right to revoke the offer or charge an additional fee if shrimp consumption is excessive.
So while you can eat a lot of shrimp, there are some constraints around the promotion. The deal is intended for individual diners to eat their fill, not for sharing or stockpiling shrimp.
How Much Shrimp Can One Person Actually Eat?
The average person can consume 3-6 ounces of shrimp in a single sitting. For reference, Red Lobster’s typical shrimp skewers contain 5-6 shrimp. At 2 bites per shrimp, that’s 10-12 bites or around 1 ounce of shrimp per skewer.
That would mean the average person could reasonably eat 3-6 skewers or 36-72 shrimp. Of course, some people can eat more than that if they are particularly hungry. Competitive eaters or those with large appetites could potentially eat upwards of 8-12 skewers or 80-120 shrimp.
Eating dozens of shrimp in one sitting is certainly possible but not necessarily advisable. At some point, stomach capacity becomes a limiting factor. Eating too much can lead to discomfort or indigestion. People wanting to maximize Endless Shrimp need to pace themselves.
What Do Servers Say About Endless Shrimp?
In Reddit threads and interviews, Red Lobster servers report seeing customers eat incredible amounts during Endless Shrimp:
– “I regularly serve people who can put down 10+ skewers. We are talking 100-150 shrimp for a single person.”
– “My record was a guest who ate 23 skewers. We were in awe.”
– “A big guy came in and ate 40 skewers. We had to keep telling the kitchen to make more because we ran low.”
– “Don’t recommend it, but had a lady eat 17 skewers. She looked so miserable trying to leave the restaurant.”
While outliers, these examples demonstrate that truly dedicated diners can eat 200, 300 even 500 shrimp in a single sitting. At 2-3 shrimp per ounce, that’s up to 10 pounds worth of shrimp consumed by one person!
So for those who come really hungry or are serious about getting their money’s worth, massive amounts of shrimp are achievable. But servers caution that eating 30+ skewers of shrimp is an extreme challenge and not particularly enjoyable.
Does Eating Excessive Shrimp Get You in Trouble?
Officially, Red Lobster has no set limit on how many shrimp can be eaten for the Endless Shrimp promotion. The company trusts its customers and does not want to restrict them from enjoying the promotion.
However, multiple customer reports indicate that if servers notice excessive consumption beyond 12-15 skewers, they may take measures to cut off the endless shrimp. Here are some potential consequences for eating too many shrimp:
– Being told the promotion has ended for the day, no more shrimp can be ordered.
– Having a manager come over and request that you stop ordering shrimp.
– Getting presented with a to-go box and the check, with a suggestion that you take the rest of the shrimp home.
– Being informed you’ve eaten over the limit and the restaurant has the right to charge you extra beyond the promotional price.
– In extreme cases, being asked to leave for abusing the promotion.
Most customers report that if you order and eat shrimp at a reasonable pace – not gobbling down skewers one after another – you can easily enjoy 20 or more skewers without issue. But being too obvious about trying to break records could get the restaurant to intervene.
Does Unlimited Shrimp Cause Red Lobster to Lose Money?
For serious shrimp lovers, Endless Shrimp may seem like an unbeatable deal. This raises the question – does Red Lobster actually lose money by offering unlimited shrimp?
The pricing on Endless Shrimp is designed so that moderate shrimp eaters will pay enough to cover food costs and overhead expenses:
– In 2022, Endless Shrimp cost $17.99 on weekdays and $22.99 on weekends.
– For that base price, diners needed to consume 4-5 shrimp skewers to “break even” from Red Lobster’s perspective.
– Anyone who eats less than that threshold helps make the promotion profitable.
– Even diners who eat 8-10 skewers still provide revenue and profit in most cases.
The losses come from extreme eaters who can put away 20 or 30 skewers in one meal. But these shrimp-eating warriors are rare enough that their impact is negligible, especially spread across hundreds of restaurants.
Red Lobster relies on the majority of customers sticking to average shrimp consumption. As long as reckless shrimp eaters do not become the norm, unlimited shrimp works out in the restaurant’s favor.
Does Endless Shrimp Bring in a Lot of Customers?
Endless Shrimp is one of Red Lobster’s most successful recurring promotions. It attracts large numbers of loyal customers each year it runs. Here are some of the ways Endless Shrimp boosts traffic for Red Lobster:
– Fans of the promotion wait all year for it to return and visit frequently during the promotional period.
– First-timers want to take advantage of the deal and the buzz around unlimited shrimp.
– Parents take their families for an affordable option to eat out.
– College students on a budget are drawn in by the value proposition.
– The promotion gets existing customers to increase their visit frequency.
– Endless Shrimp attracts media coverage and social media engagement, amplifying awareness.
The influx of customers makes wait times longer during peak times. Locations may handle hundreds more covers per day with the promotion. Strong demand allows Red Lobster to flex its operational capacity and capture incremental revenue.
Does Eating Endless Shrimp Save Money vs Buying Shrimp at the Store?
One appeal of Endless Shrimp is the feeling you can eat a lot of shrimp at a bargain price compared to buying shrimp at the grocery store. To evaluate the true savings, let’s compare costs:
|Red Lobster Endless Shrimp||$17.99 (weekday rate in 2022)|
|Raw Jumbo Shrimp (1 lb bag)||$8.99|
|Total Shrimp Skewers Possible from 1 lb Bag||About 6 skewers|
For the Endless Shrimp price of $17.99, you would need to eat 10 skewers (60 shrimp) to match the value of 1 lb of store-bought shrimp costing $8.99.
Given the average person eats 3-6 skewers, most will fall short of the 10 skewers needed to “break even.” But those who can eat 10 or more skewers during the meal get a better deal via Endless Shrimp.
The convenience of having the shrimp prepared for you also has tangible value for customers. Overall the promotion can offer good savings if you can eat a lot of shrimp!
Does Eating Lots of Shrimp Have Health Effects?
Shrimp can certainly be part of a healthy diet, providing protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, going overboard on shrimp consumption can have potential downsides:
– **High cholesterol** – Shrimp contains 166mg cholesterol per 3oz serving, more than half the daily 300mg limit recommended by health experts. Eating 10+ servings in one sitting could send your cholesterol numbers soaring.
– **High sodium** – Shrimp is naturally low in sodium, but most restaurants prepare it with added salt, raising the sodium content significantly. Excess sodium can impact blood pressure.
– **Allergies** – Some people are allergic to shrimp. Eating large amounts may increase chances of a reaction for those with a mild allergy.
– **Food poisoning** – Consuming raw or undercooked shrimp puts you at risk for bacterial food poisoning. This is rare at restaurants but a concern for those gobbling down dozens of shrimp.
– **Mercury exposure** – Shrimp can contain traces of mercury. Consuming very frequent or high amounts may cause mercury to accumulate over time.
– **GI discomfort** – Any large meal high in fat/protein can lead to stomach aches, bloating, reflux, and diarrhea when eaten quickly. Pacing oneself and staying hydrated is key.
Moderation is advised when indulging in endless shrimp. Be aware of potential health effects if you eat 10+ servings in one sitting.
Should You Feel Guilty About Eating So Much Shrimp?
For those who finished off dozens of shrimp skewers and felt regret after, it begs the question – should you actually feel bad about indulging during Endless Shrimp?
Here are some reasonable arguments on both sides:
Why you should feel guilty:
– You ate far more than a normal portion and may have deprived others of shrimp.
– It promoted gluttony and a lack of self-control around food.
– You stretched the limits of the restaurant’s generosity and promotion.
– Overeating causes harm and sets a bad example for children.
– It goes against values of conservation and responsible consumption.
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty:
– The restaurant offered unlimited food and you fully took advantage.
– As an adult, you should have the freedom to make your own choices.
– You paid fairly for the experience like any other customer.
– It causes no harm as long as you don’t make overeating a habit.
– Enjoying food experiences is part of living life to the fullest.
In the end, feeling guilty comes down to your own personal beliefs and values. While moderation and self-control have merit, the occasional overindulgence shouldn’t be over-pathologized either.
Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp promotion allows customers to indulge in unlimited shrimp within reasonable limits. Most diners consume a moderate 3-6 skewers worth. Servers say the record they’ve seen is around 40 skewers or 500 shrimp!
While not actually endless, the average person is capable of eating far more shrimp than usual thanks to the promotion. Health, finances, and waistlines might take a hit from going overboard too often, but the occasional shrimp feast can offer a fun and valuable experience for customers.
At its core, Endless Shrimp aims to provide a special indulgent meal, not enable shrimp gluttony session after session. But those determined to eat their fill of shrimp can certainly get their money’s worth at Red Lobster.