You'll Always Receive The Wrong Number Of Red Lobster Biscuits In Your Basket

If you're trying to decide whether or not Red Lobster should be your next dinner destination, it's likely there is one dish that may make your decision: Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits. The American casual dining chain's biscuits have become so popular that they're now available at grocery stores in packaged form. In 2022, Red Lobster announced that a new biscuit recipe — specifically its Honey Butter Biscuit Mix — would join their in-store product line. (In addition to both of these supermarket offerings, stores also carry a gluten-free version of the restaurant chain's classic Cheddar Bay Biscuits, along with a Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Mix.) 

In a 2010 Reddit AMA, a user who at the time claimed to be a Red Lobster employee spilled the beans on how the restaurant makes the biscuits. The employee wrote that the chain uses Bisquick if the restaurant runs out of their own biscuit mix, finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and garlic seasoning (described as "lots of garlic powder, some salt, [and] parsley...mixed with what can only be described as a ' liquid buttery sauce").

Of course, if you're a Red Lobster fan, you might already know this. You might also be aware of another bit of observational trivia: Generally speaking, servers never bring the specific number of biscuits to match the number of diners seated at the table. So why does the restaurant only provide what could be described by some as the "wrong" number of biscuits? And, more importantly, why? 

Why does Red Lobster only serve the 'wrong' number of biscuits?

Although Red Lobster was founded in 1968, its biscuits didn't make their debut until 1992, and initially weren't even marketed as biscuits. Instead, they were advertised as "freshly baked, hot cheese garlic bread," until the name "Cheddar Bay Biscuits" came into play in 1997. 

Fast-forwarding to the present day, Red Lobster's menu promises two Cheddar Bay Biscuits with each entrée, but servers must always bring what amounts to essentially a sole extra biscuit in addition to the two-per policy. According to a now-deleted-but-archived Reddit thread, one Red Lobster employee explained the restaurant chain's mandate: "We bring one biscuit for every person at the table, plus an additional biscuit for the table," adding that it's per Red Lobster's purported corporate policy.

While this might seem like a somewhat peculiar tack to take, Red Lobster is hardly alone. For example, if you're headed to Olive Garden you're likely to get a number of breadsticks in your basket that don't adhere to a one-on-one ratio. Another Reddit user who participated in the archived AMA — and who identified themselves as an Olive Garden employee — explained that both chains were, for a time, owned by the restaurant operator company Darden. (That is, until 2014, when Darden sold the seafood dining chain.) Regardless, the Olive Garden employee explained Darden's initial reasoning behind the extra breadstick or biscuit: "We've been told that the first basket with the extra piece is 'a conversation starter' and that's why we do it." 

Does the number of Red Lobster biscuits served have to do with etiquette?

To be fair, Red Lobster and Olive Garden are not the only restaurants that spur customers to wonder why their server left an extra biscuit (or breadstick, or roll) on the table. It also looks like it's become a question for the ages in the making: in a 1999 letter addressed to a column that ran in the San Diego Reader, one diner asked why servers gave five or seven pieces of bread to only two people. 

As a response, the advice columnist suggested that this trend comes down to etiquette. "An odd number of rolls allows an even number of people to take one and still gives the last roll-taker a choice; he or she is not stuck with the dry, pointy end of the French bread," the columnist wrote. "Then one roll is left in the basket so other diners won't think you're the kind of people who also put sugar packets, butter, salsa, centerpieces, and other 'free' things in your pockets." 

Could this have to do with Red Lobster's biscuit-minded practices? Possibly, or possibly not. But whether Red Lobster's biscuit policy comes down to etiquette or fuel for an interesting conversation, certainly some things remain the same: Its enduring popularity and a truly biscuit-centric mystery.