Usually when you play with your food before you eat it, it is already dead and cooked. But these claw machines — a riff on the classic arcade game when the player tries to grab a crappy toy — let would-be diners play with the food before it’s even cooked. They work just like regular claw games, except the prize is a lobster, which, if you win, is cooked for your dinner.
Probably the most disturbing thing about this whole process is that the lobsters fight back.
“I really didn’t think they would have that much spirit to them,” says this lobster clawer.
At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf tries to figure out why, exactly, it’s so creepy :
The lobsters don’t react to the claw like the tiny aliens in Toy Story. They scamper away as if terrified of a cruel, mechanized doom that we’d associate with a descending claw. “The truth is that if you, the Festival attendee, permit yourself to think that lobsters can suffer and would rather not,” Foster Wallace wrote, “the Maine Lobster Festival can begin to take on aspects of something like a Roman circus or medieval torture-fest.” But not nearly so much as the claw game, since boiling lobsters is integral to eating them, while the claw game is mere diversion and entertainment.
Basically, it’s always easier not to think about these things. If you do — if you force yourself to understand where your food comes from — you might start questioning whether you still want to eat it at all. Maybe this is actually a great way to make people eat less meat and fish. Maybe we should have to scoop up any animal we want to eat with a claw and watch it fight back.