Beware This Grocery Store Lobster Gimmick

Lobster is truly a decadent food. It's described as sweet, with a rich, melt-in-your-mouth taste (via Fish for Thought), and has long been associated with romantic dinners. Of course, despite the joy of surprising your love with a candlelit dinner of lobster tail, you probably aren't exactly able to buy lobster as much as you would like, considering the cost. But out of love — of either your partner or the decadent taste of lobster — you scrape some money together and go out to your local supermarket. Grab some candles, ingredients for a salad, the best silverware you can find, and finally, you take some time to look into that big aquarium tank by the seafood displays of packaged fish and crab cakes and try your best to pick the best-looking lobster. You head back home, prepare the lobster according to Gordon Ramsey's specifications, and await your partner. Once the surprised reaction wears off, you two sit down and dig into that sweet, buttery — unless it isn't. Unless it's off. Surprise — and not in a good way. 

What happened to your romantic dinner? You followed all the directions, cooked the lobster just right, made some aioli for it, so why does it taste so old? Your mistake is a common one, something you and anyone else could have done. Had you known this piece of advice before, you probably would have skipped those lobsters in the tank.

Those lobsters in the tank may not be the freshest

While there's something about picking your lobster from the tank at the grocery store, it may not be a good idea to choose from the tank alone. According to chef Kysha Harris of The Spruce Eats in an interview on seafood freshness with Insider, picking from the tank may be a bit of a gamble on how fresh your lobster is.

"Lobsters lose a lot of quality when they languish in the tank," Harris explains, noting that the difference in quality has a geographical factor. She explains that while lobster from along the East Coast — perhaps Maine or Rhode Island — can usually be found fresh thanks to their high demand, places that are farther away from the East Coast, such as Iowa or other landlocked states, could have lobster sitting in the tank for weeks at a time. Harris recommends that, if possible, your lobster be purchased from a coastal fish market to ensure ultimate freshness.

Over time, however, it appears that lobster tanks in the supermarket have decreased. In 2006, Whole Foods stopped selling live lobster and crab on the grounds that it is inhumane to treat lobsters in such a manner, considering their ultimate fate (via NBC). Even if your supermarket still has a lobster tank, it may be a good idea to just get it frozen instead.