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Midcoast gourmet lobster company makes 'Oprah's Favorite Things' list

BY Laurie Schreiber

12/5/2018
Courtesy / Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.
Courtesy / Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.
Products by Cal Hancock, Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.'s founder and president, have made Oprah's magazine seven times.

Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. is getting a significant sales boost just as the holiday gift season swings into full gear.
The company’s Lobster Truffle Mac & Cheese is included in this year’s "Oprah’s Favorite Things" holiday gift list, which is featured in the December issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, and on OprahMag.com.
The holiday gift list is featured in the Oprah’s Favorite Things storefront on Amazon.
“Adding fresh Maine lobster to mac and cheese is as good as it gets, or at least I thought so until I tried this version sprinkled with truffle oil,” Oprah Winfrey said in the December issue of her magazine. “I’m sending a few of these to the crustacean fans in my life.”
Cal Hancock, Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.’s founder and president, told Mainebiz in a phone interview that sales have increased almost threefold since the listing in O magazine.
Hancock first met Oprah in 2008 at the Specialty Food Association's Fancy Food Show in New York City. This is actually the seventh time her company has appeared in O since then — and the second time for 2018. In the past, the company has appeared in the summer issue.
This time around, Hancock said, she was asked to make a lobster truffle mac and cheese for the holiday issue.
“Truffle is an Oprah favorite,” she reported. “I said, ‘We’ll try. We did a lot of experimenting and came up with lobster mac and cheese using white truffle oil. We sent it and said, ‘Let us know if you like it.’”
She shipped a box of four eight-ounce portions of the product to Oprah in New York.
“And they loved it,” she continued. “So they said they wanted to put it in ‘Oprah’s favorite things.’”
Lobster mac and cheese is one of the company’s best sellers anyway, Hancock said. In fact, in 2010 she won a Lobster Mac & Cheese Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network.
It’s difficult to measure just how much of a bump in orders she’s received as a result of the Oprah exposure, because orders go up for the holiday season anyway, she said.
“This is always our busiest season anyway,” she said. “But it did bump up orders for lobster truffle mac and cheese. It’s probably triple what we would ordinarily do for a product.”
This is the company’s first time in Oprah’s holiday issue.
For the August issue, the company’s lobster grilled cheese was mentioned on the O cover: “Lobster Grilled Cheese or Sex? I choose sex, said no one ever” and then got a full-page photo splash on the inside.
Hancock founded Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. in 2000. Located in Cundy’s Harbor and Topsham, the company specializes in creating gourmet, all-natural Maine lobster and seafood products. Hancock has received numerous awards and has been featured in several national magazines, newspapers, blogs and food TV shows. Products, which include more than 50 entrées, appetizers, soups, stews and desserts, can be found at specialty markets, in catalogs and on websites nationwide, or directly through the company.
The Lobster Truffle Mac & Cheese is made with fresh Maine lobster, shell pasta enveloped in a creamy mascarpone-cheddar sauce, and a newly added organic white truffle oil, according to the company’s news release. The dish is topped with a crunchy mix of panko bread crumbs, herbed butter, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.
“This special list is the ultimate catalog of Oprah’s favorite things and we are more than delighted to be included,” Hancock said in the release.