For the last 65 years, these golden things have lightened up many a life. Fish fingers (fish sticks in America) are common across the breathing world.
Inserted into balms, like the legendary chip butty, it’s an easy snack many working class scumbags rely on to become nourished.
Join us, then, for this exploration of the frozen food that adorns supermarket freezer units across the land!
What Are Fish Fingers?
Fish fingers are fish (usually cod) covered in breadcrumbs that are then battered by frying. They resemble fingers once done, kind of like the soldiers from boiled egg with soldiers.
But fish fingers are basically the battered fish from fish and chips in condensed form. They’re more portable, let’s say.
Typically, you find these thins in supermarkets. They’re in the frozen aisles and are cheap and cheerful.
These things are mass produced (enormously so) and many people eat them out of tradition and familiarity to perk themselves up.
Brits will often have them for a snack or cheeky lunch, baking them in the oven and having them as part of a fish finger butty.
As in, add the cooked fish fingers to some bread to complete the thing. Simple but effective. And a legendary student meal many of our housemates ate back in 2005-2006.
In fact, during the pandemic sales of fish fingers skyrocketed.
Sales went up by some 21% in Q1 2020 meaning 250,000 more shifted during that period than in 2019.
In part, that was due to the higher demand for frozen foods (as we couldn’t get out and about to shops more).
But it shows the popularity of the foodstuff and its capacity to instil JOY into the lives of ordinary British folk.
What’s the History of Fish Fingers?
The roots of fish fingers are largely English, but America also has an enormous say in the product’s history and success.
The term “fish finger” first turned up in a British magazine in 1900 with a more basic recipe. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that it became more of a household name.
In the 1940s, WWII led to major food rationing. And this meant readily available foods, such as fish (particularly herring) and chips, were eaten regularly.
And embedded into the nation a sense of comfort food traditions.
Fish fingers were also commonly eaten during the war. And mass commercialisation from around 1953 meant the product could become more readily available for the public.
Although fish fingers are most commonly associated with Birds Eye, it was a different American company that first produced them: Gorton-Pew Fisheries.
That was from 1953 onward and Gorton’s Fish Sticks became a big hit!
Meanwhile, in the UK, herring was in enormous abundance after WWII and the Birds Eye brand tested its fish fingers ranges on the market from 1955.
Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) was American. But many Brits will consider the Birds Eye business as British (it isn’t).
But his product certainly took off here! Taste tests began in Southampton. During which time consumers took to the cod flavouring over herring, thusly creating a legend!
The very first fish fingers cost the equivalent of a mere 8 pence. In 2021, you can get a pack of 10 Birds Eye fish fingers for £3.25. Bloody inflation!
But the foodstuff is now so iconic to the British nation it’s inspired great, timeless workds of art. Behold!
The enigmatic artist Banksy did the above piece in 2009 to showcase fish fingers’ impact on British society. Good, eh?
How Do You Make Fish Fingers?
You’ll need fish for your fish fingers. As Gordon Ramsay explains in this video, you need to coat the white fish in seasoned flour.
And you get them in breadcrumbs (add some chopped dill) and then you pan fry the things for a mere three minutes. So, ingredients:
A knob (lol) of butter
Pretty straightforward, eh? Simple and… well, no. Not healthy. At all. But chuck some salad onto the plate and you have a nice meal.