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Why Was The Filet-O-Fish Sandwich Created?

The Filet-O-Fish is the only seafood-based option at McDonald’s. It is often deemed the semblance of a relatively healthy meal at the fast-food giant. But did you ever wonder why the fish sandwich was created in the first place?

A McDonald’s Franchise owner noticed that the sales of hamburgers would plummet every Friday, especially since Western Christians did not eat meat on Fridays. He decided to create the Filet-O-Fish sandwich to meet the demands. 

How Was The Filet-O-Fish Created?

Lou Groen, a McDonald’s franchise owner in Cincinnati, invented the Filet-O-Fish sandwich in 1962. His store was situated in a neighborhood predominantly Roman Catholic. Groen would notice the sales of hamburgers fall due to the Roman Catholic practice of abstaining from meat every Friday. This was also custom to other religious sects.

The Filet-O-Fish was the first non-hamburger menu item brought in. Ray Kroc, the owner of the McDonald’s Corporation then, made a deal with Groen; they would sell two non-meat sandwiches every Friday. The Hula Burger, which had a grilled pineapple with cheese on a cold bun, and the Filet-O-Fish. Whichever sold the most would be added to the menu. Needless to say, the Filet-O-Fish won by a landslide. It was then added throughout all the franchises in 1965. (Source: McDonald’s)

What Kind of Fish is Used for the Filet-O-Fish?

Since the inception of the Filet-O-Fish, McDonald’s has not changed their recipe. The signature steamed bun with tartar sauce and a slice of cheese atop a fish fillet is all it is. But, did you ever wonder what kind of fish they used? While halibut and cod were used to make the Filet-O-Fish, McDonald’s has finally decided to stick to a more sustainable option; the Alaskan Pollock.

The Alaskan Pollock can easily be found at the Bering Sea. McDonald’s directly sources their supply from the dock of the Dutch Harbor or Kenny Longaker.

The Pollock we catch are filleted and frozen within about 24 to 72 hours after being caught, and it’s the quality McDonald’s expects.

Kenny Longaker

(Source: McDonald’s)

While the classic Filet-O-Fish is loved and appreciated by many in the United States, the sandwich served internationally have their own regional twists. The Filet-O-Fish in specific Asian locations, wasabi is added. Others include Old Bay seasoning.

These are all owner-operators who realized there was a need for something customers wanted, and they developed a product, innovated, and brought it all to market. They’re still going to enjoy the Filet-O-Fish, I’m sure because it’s been a mainstay for our customers this entire time. But as customers’ taste changes, McDonald’s will come up with some great ways to serve them and cater to them.

Mike Bullington, McDonald’s Company Historian

(Source: McDonald’s)

Is the Filet-O-Fish Still Sold Today?

McDonald’s in the United States removed the Filet-O-Fish from the menu on September 26, 1996, and replaced it with the Fish Filet Deluxe as a part of their Deluxe Line, which did not really stick. They eventually brought back the Filet-O-Fish in the middle of 1997 due to the overwhelming letters and petitions from Filet-O-Fish fans. (Source: McDonald’s)

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