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Foodie Friday: The somewhat great ( but not too great) fish sandwich taste test

I tried fast food fish sandwiches (and didn’t die)

by Alexander Quebec

No one asked for these, yet here they are

I decided to give the fish sandwiches of some major fast-food restaurants a try. After all, fish sandwiches are kind of an afterthought for these chains, but they are not above my scrutiny. I want to take a closer look at the oftentimes neglected sandwich on most fast food menus across the country

But what brings me to this level of insanity to try what could very well be some sort of mystery meat breaded and deep-fried for the masses? My curiosity of course. It might kill me one day, but I think that my odds of finding death awaiting me at the tail end of a tartar sauce and batter filed escapade are quite low.

However, to understand where we’re going, let’s take a look at where these came from.

The quintessential fish sandwich has to be the McDonald’s version, the filet o’ fish. The spawn of Lou Groen of Cincinnati, OH, the sandwich made its debut in 1962 in response to slow sales of burgers on Fridays due to devout Catholics abstaining from meat on that day. While it may have made some changes to reflect contemporary tastes and trends, the sandwich has always remained the same elements: bun, fish filet, tartar sauce and slice of cheese.

The fish in question varies depending on where you order the sandwich from. The US McDonald’s locations will use Alaskan pollock in their sandwiches, while most of the world will use Alaskan pollock, hoki or Alaskan cod, depending on the market.

Believe it or not, this was not the only non-meat burger to debut at the time. Ray Kroc (yeah, THAT Ray Kroc) made a bet with Groen to see who would make a non-meat sandwich that would sell better. His response was the Hula Burger, a grilled slice of pineapple with a slice of cheese on a cold bun to compete with the FoF to be a part of the permanent menu of McDonald’s. Needless to say, the fish sandwich won hands down, and in retrospect, knowing how most people feel about pineapple on pizza, this might have been a good call.

Lent is coming folks, are you ready? Here are the reviews from yours truly.

Jack in the Box

Dry as hell (If you’re looking for a fine-grit sandpaper, however, I have a suggestion for ya….) The very little flavor that was to be found in these things was almost as if Jack decided that a (relatively) healthy sandwich = no flavor.

The bigger version was marginally better, but only after i requested extra tartar sauce on it, but cheese didn’t improve anything to make it stand out. At the very least, the melted cheese looked like melted cheese, which is probably the nicest thing I’ve said about this sandwich thus far

Burger King

Not bad, but not sure if they are the King of the fish sandwich here. Softer than the Jack In The Box one. Seasoned okay. I did like their tartar sauce a lot better than the McDonald’s one though.

McDonald’s

Pretty good overall, the way the slice of cheese clings to the bun is a bit discerning though. The sauce ratio was great, and the filet was fried nicely and seasoned well. I’m still trying to get over the cheese melting in the weird way that it does. I guess this is what would be considered the gold standard here.

Wendy’s

I’ll be honest, after everything I’ve had been through, the bar was set pretty low for this one. I was proven wrong  by Wendy’s on one very important front: texture. The texture was almost as close to having a freshly caught fish sandwich, it flaked and moved in my mouth like an actual fish filet. Flavor was okay, breading was okay. But that texture was the thing that made this different for me, it’s as if through the snarky, sarcastic veneer of their mascot on Twitter, they almost acted like they cared or something.

The winner.

Out of all of the sandwiches I tried, none of them win. There are no winners here, except for the restaurant chains that now have my money.

I wouldn’t order any of these on my volition. If presented with better options (like say, literally anything else), it would be a hard pass. If I did have to choose, however, It’d be a toss up between the McDonald’s and Wendy’s version, although I’d say that the Wendy’s one does seem the closest to eating a fish filet, thus giving it the edge in my book. The McDonald’s one would’ve been the winner, however, the major turn off for me still had to be the weird slice of cheese in the Filet O Fish that melts kind of odd, it seems almost unnatural, giving the sandwich a toy like appearance. Had I been a faithful, practicing Catholic, I’d be apt to pay a visit to Wendy’s more often.

But I’m not, disappointing grandma with my heathen ways and non fish eating habit on Friday’s

Anyways, I’d say my curiosity has been fully satiated for another year. I might try more down the road to see how they stack up, so be on the lookout for part 2 in the future (maybe)?

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