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The Story Behind Fish Sticks

Fish sticks are a food your parents and school cafeteria workers whipped up when they needed something cheap, fast, and easy to cook. They were never a thing chefs spent hours inventing and nailing down to perfection. Even so, these rectangular fish pieces were essential; according to Russian and Soviet History Professor Paul Josephson, they were invented in the 1950s to get rid of excess fish.

Shortly after World War II, boats and other fishing technology underwent massive advancements. To prevent sizable spoilage, companies were tasked with enticing customers with a new fished-based product.

Frozen fish, however, had a terrible reputation. Early freezers chilled meat and vegetables slowly, causing the formation of large ice crystals that turned food mushy upon defrosting.

That all changed in the 1920s, when Birds Eye owner Clarence Birdseye crafted a box of scoopable fish Josephson compared to "mangled, unappetizing chunks." These "fishbricks" were due for an immediate replacement, and after a few changes were made, fish sticks made their appearance in the world.

What are you eating when you eat fish sticks?

Fish sticks are commonly made with Alaska Pollock. When fishbricks were traded for today's fish sticks, they underwent a handful of adjustments to make them more appetizing. The fish was cut into rectangles, breaded with batter, and cleared of any bones.


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