The Filet-O-Fish, an sudden star amidst burgers and McNuggets, owes its place on the McDonald’s menu to the ingenuity of Lou Groen. This entrepreneur, having confronted adversity and labored his manner up from the underside, grew to become the president of Cincinnati Restaurant Group and opened the primary McDonald’s within the Cincinnati, Ohio space in 1959.
Regardless of preliminary promise, Groen encountered a big hurdle in 1962. His McDonald’s was positioned in an space the place 87 p.c of the inhabitants was Catholic, and through that point, most Catholics abstained from consuming meat on Fridays—aside from fish. This religious observe left Groen’s restaurant struggling on what ought to have been its most worthwhile days.
To beat this problem, Groen drew inspiration from the success of Huge Boy eating places, which had discovered success in Cincinnati with a novelty fish sandwich. With this perception, Groen proposed the concept of a fried halibut sandwich with tartar sauce to Ray Kroc, the driving drive behind McDonald’s growth. Kroc, initially skeptical, proposed a meatless various—the notorious “Hula Burger” consisting of pineapple and cheese on a bun.
In a daring transfer, each the halibut sandwich and the “Hula Burger” have been positioned on the menu one Friday to see which might prevail. The fish sandwich emerged victorious, promoting round 350 items, whereas the destiny of the Hula Burger remained undisclosed. With this, the Filet-O-Fish secured its place on the menu, outshining the quirky Hula Burger.
Groen’s preliminary halibut sandwich, priced at 30 cents, confronted a problem as Kroc aimed to scale back the price to 25 cents. The compromise led to a revised recipe that includes cod, a extra reasonably priced fish, and a slice of cheese for added taste. Though it differed from the unique halibut idea, the Filet-O-Fish grew to become a success, revitalizing Friday enterprise and making certain the survival of Groen’s restaurant.
Whereas the Filet-O-Fish recipe has developed, now utilizing sustainable Alaskan Pollock, it stays a everlasting fixture on the McDonald’s menu—a uncommon pescatarian-friendly choice. Despite the fact that meat-free Fridays are now not a widespread observe, the fish sandwich continues to be vital for spiritual prospects, particularly throughout Lent. Roughly 1 / 4 of Filet-O-Fish gross sales happen within the spring, reflecting the observance of Lent by many Catholics who abstain from land- or air-based meats throughout this era. So, when March or April comes round, count on to listen to the acquainted refrain of hungry prospects pleading, “gimme that Filet-O-Fish.”