But if crab is so expensive, how are grocery stores and restaurants able to sell crab dips and crab cakes so inexpensively? Welcome to the world of imitation crab meat, an ingredient you find almost everywhere cheap seafood is sold (including Long John Silver's).
See, lucky for the cheap and not particularly discerning amongst us, the pulverized, rubbery remains of a bunch of random fish can be easily injection-molded into damn near any seafood product under the sun and labeled surimi, right under where it pretends to be crab meat at your local grocery store.
Some are better disguised than others.
As this video with an upbeat, 80s work safety soundtrack demonstrates, real fish is minced and put through a series of progressively more horrifying and offputting challenges, like a traveler being lowered through the depths of seafood hell, until finally it doesn't resemble anything like a fish anymore so much as a slurry of lumpy, white awfulness ready to be extruded into whatever delicious product needs extruding.