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The Fascinating Origin Story Behind Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Basket of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Basket of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits - P Maxwell Photography/Shutterstock

To many fans, the best dish at Red Lobster isn't even seafood -- it's the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, the cooler, hotter older sister of Olive Garden breadsticks. The cheese biscuits with garlic-herb butter topping have inspired a cult following and some top-tier memes. Here are a few things about these salty golden beauties fans should know.

For starters, Cheddar Bay is not a real place. Red Lobster used the would-be geographical name "to reflect the seaside atmosphere of Red Lobster restaurants," per an official press release. In other words, Cheddar Bay is a place that only exists in your heart, but fans take beach holidays there so often they should consider buying a timeshare. As of 2017, Red Lobster sold nearly a million Cheddar Bay biscuits a day. In restaurants, a new batch is made every 15 minutes.

Cheddar Bay biscuits were created in 1992 by Kurt Hankins, then-head of Red Lobster's culinary development team. The chef was purportedly inspired by Texas Toast and French bread, and invented CBBs using a traditional biscuit recipe, but subbed the sugar for garlic and added cheese. The invention was bookended by arguably the other two largest developments in company history: The first Valentine's Day Lobsterfest happened in 1984, and Endless Shrimp launched in 2004. Per the Red Lobster restaurant lore, Cheddar Bay biscuits have always been a savior of sorts  --  just not the personal kind that customers might have in mind (biscuit-loving Depeche Mode fans, rise up).

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Fans Swimming In The Cheddar Bay For Over 30 Years

Close-up shot of a Cheddar Bay Biscuit
Close-up shot of a Cheddar Bay Biscuit - Jeffrey Cannon/Shutterstock

Before Cheddar Bay Biscuits, Red Lobster was peddling hush puppies, and fans weren't super into it. The restaurant replaced the underperforming item with the garlicky, cheesy biscuits fans crave today. At first, the biscuits were served on trays in the waiting area as a tantalizing appetizer while guests waited for their tables. The marketing tactic was successful, but it was too successful. Before long, CBB demand became overwhelming, and servers in the lobby couldn't keep up. Red Lobster had created a monster and had to move the biscuit-dining experience to tables. If only '90s fans could have foreseen that Cheddar Bay biscuits would become unlimited for dine-in customers, and would go on to inspire frozen biscuits and dry mix to hit grocery retailers nationwide. These days, CBB fans can get their fix without even making a trip to Red Lobster.

When they first hit tables in the early 1990s, the amber jewels were called "freshly baked, hot cheese garlic bread" (a mouthful, and not in a good way). It took a few years for Cheddar Bay biscuits to step into their proper name, but by 1996, the new era of Red Lobster-dom had arrived. In 2017, Cheddar Bay Biscuits celebrated their 25th birthday (they can vote, drive, and buy Lobsteritas). To celebrate the occasion, Red Lobster released a limited run of CBB-inspired merch including magnets, tee shirts, foam biscuits, and (coolest of all) Cheddar Bay Biscuit-flavored lip balm.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.