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Where does Fish Friday come from?

March 25th, 2011 by stephanie

While in McDonald’s grabbing what I thought would be a quick lunch, I couldn’t help noticing the exhausted police officer standing to my left patiently waiting for his lunch. When the tray finally slid out, there were two Filet of Fish sandwiches and the usual combo that goes with them. Fries and drink.
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It reminded me of an article I came across and never forgot. Apparently, the Filet o Fish sandwich from McDonald’s was a result of a religious tradition. I’d been flipping through TIME magazine when my eyes fell on a time line showing the menu transformation of the fast food chain over the years. It was the 1960’s section that caught my attention most.

The general public these days may not remember that those of the Catholic faith (and other similar denominations) don’t just give up something for Lent. They used to strongly adhere to the eating of only fish on Fridays as well. On that day of the week they abstained from other meat. They fasted it, in a way. During the day, their focus was apparently to focus on “giving up”. Sacrificing. In honor, of sorts, for what Christ did for them via His sacrifice on the cross.

That tradition of the faith was such a part of Western culture, that Fish Fridays became a common option on most, if not all, menus of eateries.

But back to McDonald’s. A man by the name of Louis Groen, of Cincinnati, Ohio, owned a Mickie D’s (vernacular for McDonald’s) franchise. One day, he contacted corporate headquarters with a concern. He told them that he needed help if he was going to keep his Catholic customers–who wouldn’t eat meat on Friday. He was well aware that Catholics, for centuries, only ate Fish on Fridays, and that tradition was affecting his sales.

The answer to his dilemma? The creation of the Filet-O-Fish sandwich in 1962.

And so, now you know.

Knowing that we’re in the midst of Lent, perhaps you have given up something, not just on Fridays, but during this 40-day fasting period. But for today, it’s all about the fish factor. Something for your water cooler chats this week. I, personally, will be enjoying Sushi with friends this evening. You?

Just my thoughts.

S.

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