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What Inspired the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish Sandwich?

Updated May 17, 2024
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If you love McDonald's fish sandwich, thank the Catholic Church. The Filet-O-Fish was not part of McDonald's menu in 1959, when Lou Groen opened a franchise in Cincinnati, a city with a significant Catholic population. But after seeing his sales plummet every Friday for years -- when Catholics were forbidden to eat meat and many of Groen's customers went elsewhere to eat seafood -- Groen came up with the idea of getting his regular customers hooked on a new fish sandwich.

Company founder Ray Kroc hated the idea, saying it would "stink up" his franchises, but he agreed to a contest: He would offer customers a choice between his "Hula Burger," which was pineapple and cheese on a bun, and Groen's fish sandwich. Needless to say, Groen's invention won easily, and the now-iconic Filet-O-Fish became a permanent menu fixture in 1963.

More about Mickey D's:

  • McDonald's is the world's largest toy producer, distributing 1.5 billion toys around the world every year via its Happy Meals.

  • According to a Sponsorship Research International survey of 7,000 people in six countries, more people recognize the Golden Arches than the Christian cross, at 88 percent to 54 percent.

  • No one in the United States is ever more than 107 miles (172 km) from the nearest McDonald's.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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