Your lobster roll is a rip-off

Business Insider

View photo

.
Lobster roll

Photo by Edward Westmacott via Shutterstock



Thanks to the warmer waters of climate change, a boom in lobster sex, and a glut of lobster, you can, if you live in Maine, fetch lobster for about $2.20 a pound. 

That means that the delicious lobster roll you're ordering on Seamless right now costs you around seven to 12 times the amount that lobster meat is actually going for.

So let's dig in to the lobster economy as if were a meaty claw full of succulent...wait, where were we?

Lobster Meat Is Cheap

The amount of actual lobster meat a lobster roll contains is about 3.5 ounces, according to an expert whom New York magazine consulted—that's about the amount meat you'd scoop and dig out of one one-pound lobster. The lobster "off the boat is selling for as low as $2.20 a pound," reports The New Yorker's James Surowiecki. So, do the math: $2.20 should easily cover all the meat in a lobster roll. 

To put that into perspective, grass-fed beef from Fresh Direct goes for about $9 a pound, organic chicken is about $2.99 per pound, and boneless pork chops are around $4.99 per pound. Lobster meat fresh off the boat is cheaper than all of those — yet sells on Fresh Direct for $9.99 a pound, to give you an idea on the markup. 

Lobster Rolls Are Expensive

Lobster rolls are delicious. I would throw my coworkers down several flights of stairs for one right now. But they're also expensive. Keep in mind, your average lobster roll price may vary. That having been said, we looked at some of the best-reviewed lobster roll "shacks" in the city. The lowest mark up comes in around 7 times the amount you'd pay off the boat (it'd be like paying $123,522 for a standard $18,000 Honda Civic). So here's the number of lobsters you could buy fresh off the boat, somewhere on the coast of Maine or the Cape Cod shore, compared to the amount that you're paying for that delicious Manhattan lobster roll: 


Luke's Lobster $15.  




Mary's Fish Camp $30. 



Mermaid Inn $28. 



Red Hook Lobster Pound $16.



Ed's Lobster Bar $27. 



BLT Fish Shack $26. 



I'm not even going to debate which one is the best—an argument that has the potential to cause violence. True, in good part, what you're paying for in these markups is the preparation, the surgical removal of lobster meat from lobster shell, a smidgen of mayo (or butter), a hot dog bun, and ambiance (if you eat in). Slate's Matt Yglesias points out, you're paying for transportation costs too. What it boils down to is you're overpaying, but the thing is...

Nothing Can Be Done 

This was first explored, famously, by David Foster Wallace in his famous essay "Consider the Lobster," where he looked how lobster became a luxury food. And, as Surowiecki explains, low prices create suspicion, making potential customers think cheaper lobster is inferior (rather than being reflective of the actual market price). Moreover, high lobster prices also make selling medium-priced fish easier—a lower price would make those medium-priced entrees seem more expensive. "Setting lobster prices is not, in other words, a matter of just adding a markup to costs. It’s a surprisingly complex attempt to both respond to and shape what customers want," Surowiecki writes. 

The Cheap Lobster Might Not Last, Anyway

The reason we have such cheap lobster is that waters are warmer. Warmer waters make more lobsters randy, drives them to molt and grow rapidly, and thus creates bigger harvests. But getting too warm can make them sick. "While warmer waters off the coast of Maine in recent years have probably aided the boom in lobster numbers, putting us right in the temperature sweet spot for this species, we’re getting closer and closer to that point where the temperature is just too stressful for them, their immune system is compromised and it’s all over," Bob Steneck, Professor of Marine Sciences told Think Progress.  Experts say one freak year is all that it would take for the lobster orgy to end and ruin the lives of the good people who make your lobster roll happen. Then the lobster roll would become even more expensive, and you may just have to resort to clam strips.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • 'Morbidly obese' woman drops 126 pounds and becomes fitness model

      A woman from Aarhus, Denmark, who was once classified as “morbidly obese” after tipping the scales at 268 pounds, now works as a physical trainer and sportswear model after dropping more than half of the weight in a period of four years. Mathilde Broberg, 22, lost the excess pounds partially by cutting out junk food, exercising avidly and following the “teaspoon diet,” where she measured out her food and ate with a teaspoon to ensure that the portion sizes weren’t larger than the size of a flat-out hand.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • Trump's Treasury pick just doubled down on a budget trick that would steal from an entire generation

      On Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Treasury secretary took the hot seat in...

      Business Insider
    • 'Grand Theft Auto' player builds a $1 million car to get justice against trolls

      The trouble with online video games is that there's always someone out to ruin other players' fun. One Grand Theft Auto V player found out how to get payback — literally. After getting fed up with other players blowing up cars in Grand Theft Auto V's online multiplayer mode, Aaron Reynolds documented on Twitter Tuesday an ingenious way to troll his trolls, Kotaku noticed. Reynolds suped up a car enough to value over $1 million...and then insured it. That forced the car-destroying culprits to pay him as high of an insurance premium as possible, hurting their wallets in retaliation. He named it Operation: One Million Dollar Car (or O1MDC for short). Here's how it went down: Players who blow up

      Mashable q
    • While Drama Swirls, Olivia Munn Stuns in Yellow Gown

      Olivia Munn looked gorgeous in a yellow gown with a plunging neckline. Despite the fact that Olivia Munn‘s relationship with football player Aaron Rodgers is making headlines, the actress doesn’t appear to be fazed by it. The 36-year-old was recently spotted in a glamorous yellow gown with a plunging neckline while out in New York City.

      Yahoo Style
    • Teen Who Was Kidnapped as a Baby Knew About Abduction, Court Records Say

      The South Carolina woman accused of kidnapping a newborn baby from a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1998 allegedly admitted to the crime over a year ago, according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Gloria Williams, 51, allegedly abducted Alexis Manigo on July 10, 1998, just hours after she was born at a Jacksonville hospital and raised the girl as her own in South Carolina. Williams allegedly posed as a nurse and told the baby’s mother that the newborn had a fever and she needed to take her away, according to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

      Good Morning America
    • These Are The Weird Foods U.S. Presidents Love (14 photos)

      Running a country sounds like it'd work up quite an appetite, and with the White House chef at their disposal, U.S. presidents are free to eat just about anything they'd like. Here's what some of our noble leaders chowed down on after a long day in the Oval Office. From Delish

      Delish
    • Floyd Mayweather Failed Miserably At Trying To Troll Conor McGregor For Being Broke

      Floyd Mayweather is at it again, attempting to antagonize Conor McGregor as they continue their very strange beef and teasing a potential fight between the biggest star in boxing and the biggest star in mixed martial arts. The latest installment in the Mayweather-McGregor saga comes courtesy of Floyd’s Twitter, as he attempted to troll McGregor by comparing the two’s net worths. The reason he did this is because Dana White recently offered both fighters $25 million plus a negotiated pay-per-view revenue split to fight.

      UPROXX
    • VIDEO: Driver Licenses From Nine States Won’t Be Valid IDs for Domestic Flights in 2018

      Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, travelers from nine states will no longer be able to travel with only their driver’s licenses.

      Travel & Leisure Video
    • EpiPen gets a new rival: Auvi-Q. Its pricing scheme will blow your mind

      Have allergies? This EpiPen rival has a list price of $4,500, but most patients won't pay a cent.

      CNBC
    • Witnesses: Teen girl tosses dog off bridge, then removes pants, swims in ocean in South Florida

      A girl seen throwing a dog off the Blue Heron bridge in Riviera beach later said she did so "cause dogs can fly," witnesses told Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies. It turns out bit of extra weight may have helped protect the dog, according to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control. BJ, an eight-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, is in a lot of pain but stable after a nearly 50 foot fall off the bridge at about 3:40 p.m. Wednesday at Phil Foster Park. "It doesn't appear he has anything broken," Palm Beach Animal Care and Control spokesman Capt. David Walesky said. "It's possible the extra weight helped him out a little bit. It's surprising he doesn't have any more injuries." BJ weighs about

      Orlando Sentinel q
    • Executive actions ready to go as Trump prepares to take office

      By Ayesha Rascoe and Julia Edwards Ainsley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump is preparing to sign executive actions on his first day in the White House on Friday to take the opening steps to crack down on immigration, build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and roll back outgoing President Barack Obama's policies. Trump, a Republican elected on Nov. 8 to succeed Democrat Obama, arrived in Washington on a military plane with his family a day before he will be sworn in during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. ...

      Reuters 59 min ago
    • I tried Whataburger, In-N-Out, and Shake Shack — and the winner is clear

      The INSIDER Summary: • There's always been competition between the east and west coasts when it comes to burgers.  • In-N-Out takes the title as the best burger, but Whataburger's honey chicken biscuits are a solid bet too. Ah, the great debate of burger joints. If you're on the Eastern side of the USA, you may be more of a Shake Shack fan. However, for those of you on the West Coast, you may be more partial to some In-N-Out or Whataburger. Unfortunately for me, I am smack dab in the middle with many other flyover states, and close to none of these amazing burger joints. However, I do travel a lot and have had the opportunity to try all three varieties, time and time again (I just love burgers,

      Business Insider q
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • Tiny House Living: How Much Money Can You Really Save?

      Saving money is a goal for many Americans, and in some cases you can do it by living in a tiny house. Here's the trend by the numbers.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • Mark Zuckerberg is suing hundreds of Hawaiians to protect his 700-acre Kauai estate

      Mark Zuckerberg paid close to $100 million for 700 acres of beachfront property on the island of...

      Business Insider
    • Western Union admits to aiding wire fraud, to pay $586 million

      Western Union Co , the world's biggest money-transfer company, agreed to pay $586 million and admitted to turning a blind eye as criminals used its service for money laundering and fraud, U.S. authorities said on Thursday. Western Union, which has over half a million locations in more than 200 countries, admitted "to aiding and abetting wire fraud" by allowing scammers to process transactions, even when the company realized its agents were helping scammers avoid detection, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission said in statements. With the help of Western Union agents, Chinese immigrants used the service to send hundreds of millions of dollars to pay human smugglers, wiring the money in smaller increments to avoid federal reporting requirements, U.S. authorities said.

      Reuters
    • People are talking about the confusing Photoshop fail in Selena Gomez’s Instagram selfie

      We all know that Selena Gomez is beyond beautiful and is no need of Photoshop. But one picture floating around the internet…

      Hello Giggles
    • Blake Shelton Gushes Over Gwen Stefani, ‘the Hottest Date’ at the People’s Choice Awards

      Blake Shelton took home two trophies on Thursday night at the 2017 People’s Choice Awards, one for favorite male county artist and the other for favorite album. “Thanks to the hottest date here tonight, Gwen Stefani — who is sitting out there,” Shelton gushed. The No Doubt singer and Shelton will also be reuniting on screen for season 12 of The Voice, where they’ll both serve as coaches alongside Adam Levine and Alicia Keys.

      People
    • With Donald Trump as President, Here's What Will Happen to the U.S. Economy

      Donald Trump has had a lot of success in business, but how will he be for the economy as president? Here's how his economic policies will play out.

      TheStreet.com q