I began experimenting with a Texas toast-style French bread to replace the hush puppies. Yet, there was still opportunity to develop a product that was more memorable and unique. I knew I wanted something that would pair well with fresh seafood, and biscuits were first considered because they are often eaten as comfort food among family and friends. I wanted to create a savory biscuit that guests would return for. The new bread took a typical biscuit recipe, added cheese and substituted garlic for traditional sugar to create a savory flavor.
The biscuits were first tested in a few restaurants in Georgia. Guests' reactions signaled that they were then ready to be rolled out nationally. What was then called "freshly baked, hot cheese garlic bread" finally made their official debut in restaurants in the early 1990s. This was part of a Red Lobster menu revamp, which allowed guests to receive more complimentary items with their entrees: biscuits, a choice of salad and a choice of side. This format is still in place today. When they were first introduced in restaurants, servers walked from table to table with trays full of the complimentary biscuits and used tongs to hand them out to guests who wanted any. As you can imagine, they could not keep up with the demand from guests, which prompted baskets of biscuits being placed on the guests' tables instead.
Five years after their premier, the cheese garlic bread became Cheddar Bay Biscuits to reflect the seaside atmosphere of Red Lobster restaurants. However, you will have a difficult time finding Cheddar Bay on the map—it's a fictitious name created to bring the biscuits to life, embody the seaside theme and emphasize that these are not your typical biscuits.
Today, Red Lobster serves 395 million biscuits every year or almost 1.1 million biscuits every day. They continue to be baked fresh in our restaurants and are served to guests hot. One batch takes 15 minutes to prepare and bake. Cheddar Bay Biscuits have become overwhelmingly popular, sparking many copycat recipes that try to replicate the original and even guests celebrating their birthdays with Cheddar Bay Biscuits as their cakes. Official Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix is available at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart stores and has been very popular among consumers looking to enjoy the biscuits at home. One super-fan even started a Facebook fan page dedicated to the biscuit. The Cheddar Bay Biscuit is often synonymous with Red Lobster, so much so that many think they've always been around. The entire Red Lobster team is in planning mode to find more unique ways to celebrate this beloved menu item.