Lobster rolls: Americans dig in

Lobster rolls

Mo Rocca this morning has food on his mind. To begin, let's share a lobster roll:

Every summer, Route 1 in Wiscasset, Maine becomes what locals call "gridlock with view," as lobster roll pilgrims descend to feast on Red's Classic Maine Lobster Roll.

Michael Hayden hails from Mount Vernon, Illinois. "I come to Wiscasset every year just to eat at Red's," he told Rocca. 

George and Allison Stollard are from Austin, Texas. They're here to check out lobster camp. "Which means we're going and getting lobster all around Maine for a week," said Allison.

Lobster rolls at Red's Eats in Maine. CBS News

"Our bartender grew up here in Maine, and this was her favorite spot," added George. "So we felt like we should add it to the list."

Debbie Gagnon's father, Al (a.k.a. "Red") Gagnon, bought the shack 40 years ago. Red's secret recipe? "Everyone asks that. There's no secret. Give people the freshest food, and pile it high," Debbie replied.

No, they don't hold back at Red's. Each roll is stuffed with the meat of a whole lobster.

Lobster, a once-reviled seafood fed to prisoners, long ago clawed its way up from bottom-feeder status on the menu.

The first person to serve lobster in a sandwich may have been Harry Perry of Milford, Connecticut, who grilled one up in 1929. "That became the hallmark of our restaurant," said Perry's granddaughter, Wendy Weir Smith. "We were known as the home of the famous lobster roll.

Lobster rolls across Connecticut have been served hot ever since.

Today the crustacean sensation is sweeping the nation.

Chef Brandon Kida prepares his lobster roll. CBS News

Way over on the West Coast, at L.A.'s Hinoki & the Bird, chef Brandon Kida's lobster roll takes on flavors from the Far East. His aioli has a Thai curry spice, with ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime and garlic.

"The basil flowers are meant to give an accent to the curry," Kida said. "And then we're all done with a little bit of lemon juice. And there we're done. And that's our lobster roll.

"We don't have a real history of lobster rolls, so it's nice to be able to have freedom with creativity."

And smack dab in the middle of the country, at Josh Thoma's Smack Shack, in Minneapolis -- lobster rolls served cold are hot, don't cha' know?

"We go through about 2,000 pounds of lobster a week in the summertime when we're busy -- literally, a ton of lobster a week," said Thoma.

The bread's local; the lobsters are flown in from Maine.

Josh Thoma's Smack Shack, in Minneapolis, moves about a ton of lobster a week during the Summer. CBS News

When Thoma first sold his roll out of a food truck seven years ago, Minnesotans were confused. "I think oftentimes people would come up to the truck and they thought they were getting sushi," he said.

But soon enough they took to it … like a lobster to melted butter.

Rocca watched as Annie Caroen took her first bite, ever, of lobster. "Very good!" she said.

And another lobster roll lover is born!

"Thank you," Rocca said, "for not saying it tastes like chicken."

RECIPE: Red's Eats Lobster Roll

RECIPE: Lobster Roll from L.A.'s Hinoki and the Bird

RECIPE: Smack Shack Lobster Roll

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