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Saturday, June 01, 2024


by Katie Kemple

Red Lobster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week citing $1 billion in debt, according to court filings. The announcement comes after a disastrous 2023 endless shrimp promotion in which, for around $20, patrons could order as much shrimp as they wanted, prompting eating challenges by users of TikTok. But while it brought customers to stores, it also put the chain $11 million in the red. —Vox, May 26, 2024

Who knew Red Lobster could be undone 
by its small cousin? TikTokers gone wild 
eating 70 shrimp at a time. Everyone 
desperate for a deal anywhere we can find 
it. All-you-can-eat-shrimp a sort of shrink-
flation in reverse. As our dreams squeezed 
shrimp size. Smaller houses. Apartments. 
We don't own them. Freelance gig status. 
No benefits. Red Lobster underestimated 
how desperately the rest of us needed that 
20-buck offer. We ate the chain out from 
under her majestic claws. Loved her too hard. 
Cracked her so humbly. She never saw it 
coming. Like that time, we borrowed my 
aunt's kayak, and her neighbor let us pull 
their lobster trap. How it tasted within 
the hour, boiled and full of ocean. How 
we cracked it and shared bites between 
the four of us. The best deal ever. I wore 
those lobster leggings. The seafood lover 
in me, loving the serendipity. The trap, 
the chain, in full view, we knew what we 
were doing, the freedom of it. The feeling 
we'd stepped outside of the capital, not
targets or markets. Not eating a commodity.

Katie Kemple is a poet based in Southern California.