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Omaha Steaks in 2011: What Gives?


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A few months ago, Omaha Steaks opened a retail store near my house. I stopped in today and was unable to figure out what was going on in there.

The place couldn't have felt less like a butcher shop. Everything is frozen, packaged, and sitting in carboard boxes in large glass-door freezers. If they're going for antiseptic banal, they nailed it.

It took me a while to find the steaks themselves. As it turns out, Omaha Steaks offers a wide range of other products, from brats to sweet potato fries, from crème brulée to pet treats. The steaks were in the back of the store, next to high end TV dinners.

And when I say "high end," I'm referring to the price. Four servings of crème brulée retail at $38; Fido's 3 ounces of steak scraps cost $9. Everything is jaw-droppingly expensive.

Which brings us to the meat itself. In the same price range as top-shelf places like DeBragga & Spitler and Lobel's, both of whom ship their aged meat fresh, Omaha features frozen meat that's been aged for who knows how long. However, it is described like a vintage Rolls: "Elegant. Impressive. Unforgettable."

So is it? Has anyone tried this stuff lately? What do you make of the entire Omaha shtick?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Don't get me started. The "ex" used to think this was just the greatest thing for customer Christmas gifting. Horridly expensive and sad. The meat quality was not as good as what I would pick up from the local chain market as unfortunately we occasionally ended up with an undeliverable styrofoam box. The worst I think were the chicken and fish selections which I never ate though I shuddered at the descriptions. Chicken or fish stuffed with a creamy concoction that sounded like a TV dinner frozen meal. With all of the wonderful sources on the internet today I think it is the company's aggresive marketing history that results in unknowledgeable consumers purchasing. A great study for an MBA student.

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Chris,

This past Christmas I received my second package of Omaha delicacies in the span of three years. As lovely as the sentiment is on behalf of the sender, I was not excited.

Heidi is absolutely correct...Shaw's has better meats. In fact, the portions are so small that I had to supplement from my local Big Y and the side by side comparison was in the Y's favor...big time (and I'm not too thrilled with chain meats to begin with).

My daughter and I tried to eat the 'Crab and Scallop Stuffed Sole', but after being disgusted by the smell after cooking we threw it out after one bite.

We used the boneless chicken breasts in a pasta dish, and the burgers and dogs were fine, but I don't know that we'll tackle the 'pork chops' - pork sans bones and ZERO FAT does not appeal to me.

In short, don't waste your time and hard earned money on Omaha. There are too many terrific purveyors out there that truly deliver awesome product. Omaha Steaks does not.

Just my 2 cents.

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Chris,

One of my girls worked part time, in phone sales over x-mas. Sales were really down this yr, over the past holiday for them , she said. For me, I will buy steak specials over the holiday, only because grandma likes her steak well done ( yikes ).

Paul from Omaha

Its good to have Morels

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I bet they have great customer service, a la Harry & David. These places that sell mediocre food products tend to survive on corporate gift-giving revenue and the administrative assistants placed in charge of those efforts really appreciate the companies that make it easy.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think Omaha Steaks (etc) cater to the lowest common denominator in gifting. Perceptually, one step up from a gift certificate or Hickory Farms. They are recognized and low-risk gift along the lines of how fast food franchises originally got so popular; a safe haven where you knew what you were getting, even if it wasn't anything special.

I really can't understand how they get the prices they do. Maybe it's a mentality that "I'm spending a lot of money on this so it MUST be good". I don't know anyone who buys their products for themselves, it's always "for company" or gifting, or something else.

I have been given some of their steaks in the past and found them uniformly dull and tasteless. The filets were like little hockey pucks (emphasis on little) even when cooked black-and-blue. Boggles the mind how they stay in business, let alone grow.

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

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"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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Years and years ago we used Omaha steaks for our traditional Christmas filet mignon dinner and they were horrible. They came in vacuum packages in perfect little filet shapes, but once you opened the package they collapsed and spread out.

I couldn't have been much older than my teens or early 20s but even then I recognized a scam. I guess Steven's right in his conjecture; otherwise I have no idea why they're still kicking.

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