The History of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish

Wil Fulton wrote . . . . . . . . .

It starts with an enterprising McDonald’s franchise owner.

Sometimes strokes of sandwich genius can be attributed to divine intervention, but sometimes they’re just a matter of desperate economic times necessitating some next-level creativity.

It’s 1962. The Kennedy presidency was alive and well. The Beatles’ popularity was ascending overseas. And, more relevant to our story, Lou Groen, a Micky D’s franchise owner in the greater Cincinnati area, was at the helm of a quickly sinking ship. Sales were brutal. His had a skeleton crew manning the place that consisted only of himself, his wife and some dude named George.

“I did repairs, swept floors, you name it,” Groen, who passed away at age 93 in 2011, told The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Clark in 2007.

They were on the verge of losing it all, because no one was eating burgers on Fridays, especially during the months of February and March.

The problem? The area his McDonald’s served was almost 90% Catholic.

And this ratio was bad news for meat-slingers, especially at this time. “Good Catholics” were “expected” to abstain from meat every Friday, and many would completely take meat off their menus during the entire 40-day period of Lent. Ask your grandma. Or, my grandma. Or any older person wearing a crucifix and silently scolding you with their retinas.

The laws passed by the Vatican in the late ’50s and early ’60s made it easier to get your penance in other ways (like giving random stuff up in place of meat). But at the time when Groen’s business was in the toilet, most self-respecting Catholics still followed these meat-restricting guidelines like it was the Word of God.

Which to them, it was, of course.

And on the third day, Groen created the Filet-O-Fish. And it was good.

Not only did Groen have the almost saintlike intuition to buy a McDonald’s franchise in the early ’60s, but he also realized the company was getting screwed out of some serious bucks during the sacred stretch when Catholic customers ditched the golden arches for fried fish joints — Groen noted that the nearby Big Boy was doing gangbusters business with its version of the fish sandwich.

So, he hatched a fish sandwich concept of his own that would fit with McDonald’s fast food ethos, whipped up some tartar sauce, and took his experiment to Micky D’s headquarters for an evaluation, and hopefully the go-ahead from corporate.

The brass at McDonald’s couldn’t deny that Groen’s fish-wich was a solid idea, but they were already conceptualizing ideas for a meatless sandwich, too — because if there’s one thing upper-management excels at, it’s crushing the dreams of their employees (excluding my bosses, of course).

The Filet-O-Fish was almost nixed for the “Hula Burger”

Groen said that McDonald’s head honcho, Ray Croc, envisioned their meatless sandwich as a cold bun with a slice of pineapple and cheese on it. And he wanted to call it the (**shudder**) “Hula Burger.” Seriously.

“Ray said to me, ‘Well, Lou, I’m going to put your fish sandwich on (a menu) for a Friday. But I’m going to put my special sandwich on, too. Whichever sells the most, that’s the one we’ll go with.’ Friday came and the word came out. I won hands down. I sold 350 fish sandwiches that day. Ray never did tell me how his sandwich did,” Groen said.

People prefer warm cuts of fried fish to cold slices of pineapple? What marketing department could have possibly seen that coming?! Though to be fair pineapple seems to have beat fish out in terms of popularity as a pizza topping (even if not everyone is on board).

And now, the fish sandwich is an international sensation

The Filet-O-Fish represented the first major expansion of McDonald’s original menu, and has since become a staple of Micky D’s menus around the globe, inspiring plenty of fast-food copycats. And on a micro-note, in Groen’s words, it “saved his business.”

While the man himself is no longer around to revel in the glory of his creation, his contribution to the world of fast food swims upstream eternally.

According to the original Cincinnati Enquirer profile, 23% of all Filet-O-Fish sandwiches are bought during Lent, and its religious significance has extended beyond Catholicism, as Muslims and Jews — who also have dietary restrictions regarding meat — have embraced it as well.

So the next time your Catholic guilt overwhelms you, and you opt for the Filet at the drive-thru on a Lenten Friday, thank Lou Groen and his spark of marketing genius.

Source: Thrillist

Herb-crusted Cod Fillets


4 cod fillets, about 5oz each
sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
olive oil, to drizzle

Herb Crust

2-1/2 oz white bread
3/4 oz slice of brioche
large bunch of parsley, leaves only
chopped handful of thyme, leaves only
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere (or Parmesan)
10 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature

Sauteed Chanterelles

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
few thyme sprigs
7oz baby chanterelles, cleaned and trimmed


  1. First, make the herb crust. Remove the crusts from the bread and brioche, then tear into pieces. Whiz the bread, brioche, herbs, and cheese together in a blender or food processor for a few seconds until the herbs are minced. Add the butter and whiz to a bright green paste.
  2. Spoon the mixture onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to wrap the butter and shape it into a large log, about 2 inches in diameter.
  3. Holding both ends of the plastic wrap, roll the log on the counter to even it out. Chill for 1 to 2 hours until firm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  5. Trim the cod fillets and remove the skin and any pin bones with tweezers.
  6. Season and place, skinned side up, on an oiled baking sheet. Brush the fish with a layer of mustard. Cut thin slices from the herb crust and arrange these on top of the fish. (The remaining herb crust can be frozen for later use.)
  7. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes until the fish is opaque and cooked through.
  8. While the fish is cooking, prepare the sauteed chanterelles. Heat the olive oil and butter in a wide skillet until the butter begins to foam. Toss in the thyme and chanterelles with some seasoning. Cook over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  9. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  10. Place a herb-crusted fish fillet on each serving plate. Divide the sauteed chanterelles among the plates, drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Gordon Ramsay’s maze

What’s for Lunch?

Tempura Shrimp Rice Bowl Set Lunch at a Tenya (天丼てんや) Store in Tokyo, Japan

The price of the Cherry Blossom Set with rice bowl, soba and soup is 1,080 yen (tax included).

How Foods Can Help The Microbes Inside Us Thrive

Jonathan Lambert wrote . . . . . . . . .

Katherine Harmon Courage wants us to think about digestion as a collaborative journey between us and our microbes. In her new book, Cultured: How Ancient Foods Can Feed Our Microbiome, she envisions digestion not as a simple food-in, excrement-out process, but as a series of encounters with varying microbial players that takes place along the winding 30-foot tunnel of our gastrointestinal tract. Along the way, microbes digest the food we can’t, and in return we give them a warm, well-stocked place to live.

But a surge in microbiome research over the past two decades has revealed they do much more than simply digest food. They can mediate weight gain, fight off infection, and even alter our mood. Scientists still have much to learn about the identity of these microbes, which are important, and how the beneficial ones work their magic.

Incomplete understanding hasn’t stopped the burgeoning probiotic industry, which argues that we can improve our gut health by taking a pill stuffed with billions of beneficial strains of bacteria, or eating a probiotic-infused yogurt with breakfast. The thinking goes that we just need to eat the right microbes to construct a healthier gut.

Courage believes this focus on the microbes themselves is myopic. She views the process of digestion as collaborative because the food we put into our bodies affects the kinds of bacteria that live and thrive there. In her book, she explores the science behind how what we feed our microbes affects our health.

She thinks we can learn how to better work together with our microbial partners by looking to the past. From Greenland to Greece, Courage explores the ancient gut-friendly foods that have become integral parts of many food cultures, and offers suggestions on how to diversify the kinds of foods we feed our microbiome.

We spoke with Courage about the science behind pro- and prebiotics, and what she learned exploring fermented staples across the world. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

A lot of the buzz around the microbiome has been about the microbes themselves, and what they do for us. You focus much of your book on what they eat, the ” prebiotics” we feed them. Why?

It may be less interesting to talk about fiber than about all these new species we’re learning about and infusing into foods, but what we feed our microbes is just as important as what microbes are there.

I think that, from our human perspective, it’s helpful to think about microbes in two broad categories. There are microbes that we have in our guts throughout our lives that are adapted for living there, and then there are the microbes we get from food or supplements. Those latter ones just kind of pass through. They can survive the journey, and can certainly provide benefits along the way, but they aren’t long-term residents of the gut, and they’re not going to have the long-term health impacts that more-permanent residents might have.

We’re starting to learn more about how we can create the conditions for those resident microbes to thrive and potentially benefit us, and a large part of that is what we feed them. And much of what we feed them is fiber.

What happens if we don’t feed our microbes?

So then they start to eat us — our lower intestine, which is only a single human cell thick, which helps us absorb as much as we can from our digested food before we expel it. But it also makes it easy for things to escape.

When our microbes don’t get enough fiber, they can start eating away the mucus lining protecting this thin layer, and sometimes the lining can break, which can lead, literally, to leaky gut syndrome, which is associated with many poor health outcomes.

When I think of fiber, I think processed, cardboard-like breakfast cereal. Is fiber more diverse than that? How important is having a diverse diet of fiber to cultivating a healthy microbiome?

Prebiotic fiber is just any kind of carbohydrate that we can’t digest ourselves that instead passes through out digestive system as food for microbes. There are many different types of fiber that get broken down by different microbes at different stages of digestion. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat a wide variety of foods, and not just focus on a particular supplement here and there. Lots of different kinds of fibers help lots of different microbes thrive and create different beneficial compounds for us. Which is good because we’re learning that generally, a more diverse microbiome is an indicator of health. If you look at people’s guts around the world — and even in the same society — people with more diverse microbiomes tend to be healthier overall.

What are some examples of different types of fiber and the foods that carry them?

One kind of fiber that’s gotten a lot of focus is inulin. We’ve actually been adding it to foods for longer than we’ve been looking closely at it, but it’s commonly found in foods like chicory root or sunchokes. It’s a very long carbohydrate chain, which means it takes a bit longer to pass through our system and get broken down by microbes. Research shows that it encourages growth of bifidobacteria, lactobacteria [two strains of bacteria commonly associated with health benefits].

Another big one comes from fruits and veggies, called Fructo-oligosaccharides. It’s shorter than inulin and adding it to your diet has been shown to reduce markers of inflammation.

Galacto-oligosaccharides are another form of fiber found in milk, and are broken down in the colon.

I was really surprised to learn about resistant starch as another form of fiber. It comes from more simple carbohydrates that have been cooked and then cooled; think of cold potato or pasta salad. So once those starches are crystallized, they become the type of resistant starch that our bodies can’t break down anymore [but our microbes can]. Even cold pasta, which you don’t necessarily think of as being healthy, can be a great source of resistant starch.

Do other aspects of our diet besides fiber affect the microbiome?

Almost everything we eat has some kind of impact on our microbes. One example I talk about in the book is meat. Really kind of fatty meats like pork can have a negative health impact on us via our microbes, because they produce a metabolite called TMAO, which has been linked to negative health outcomes. But fish oil has been shown to be beneficial — the microbes of mice fed fish oil instead of pork lard produced much fewer TMAOs.

Another exciting area of research is looking at how gene expression in the same microbial strains can change, based on what they’re being fed. Different metabolites get produced not by different microbes, but by the same microbes being fed differently.

You looked at a lot of research comparing Western diets to more traditional, hunter-gatherer diets. How did their diets and microbiomes differ?

Researchers look to hunter-gatherer societies to try to understand what our ancestral diets looked like, before the advent of agriculture. This can give us clues potentially to the kinds of diets humans are adapted for.

These studies find that we eat a lot less fiber than we probably used to.

The FDA recommends something like 30 grams of fiber a day, but most Americans don’t even get that. Traditional hunter-gatherer cultures, like the Hadza group in Africa, eat 100-plus grams of fiber a day.

So people eating modern, Western diets are getting maybe 15 to 30 grams of fiber a day, when our bodies may be adapted to expect over 100. This lack of fiber seems to be making a big impact on the diversity of our microbiome. These traditional, high-fiber dieters have a much more diverse microbiome than [people eating] more modern diets, [and the former] is often linked to better health outcomes. It’s hard to draw hard conclusions about cause and effect here, because there are so many other lifestyle factors at play, but it certainly seems that our low-fiber diet is not great for our health.

In reporting your book, you go on a culinary quest exploring all these different fermented and microbial foods. What was the most surprising food you encountered?

By far it was Kiviak, which is a traditional Inuit food from Greenland. Kiviak is birds, specifically Auks, fermented inside a seal skin. So when Auks are in season they capture the birds and stuff [up to 500] in the seal skin, sew it up and leave it underground to ferment for a year, and then dig it up and eat it.

It’s important to remember that fermentation didn’t necessarily come about because people were thinking about the health benefits. It was a way to preserve foods and make it through a harsh Greenland winter.

A lot of these foods are not seen as individual things to be eaten for a specific benefit, but rich, integral parts of food culture. How does culture shape how we feed our microbiome?

There’s really not a culture out there that doesn’t incorporate some kind of fermented food, and many have a rich diversity of different kinds of fermented foods.

We think about things like kimchi as being the Korean fermented food, and it is actually their national food, but they have so many other kinds of fermented foods that they infuse throughout the whole cuisine.

These foods aren’t really viewed as this separate thing. You’re not eating kimchi as a little healthful snack for your microbes and then going back to your normal diet. These fermented foods are incorporated into the food culture — they’re condiments, sides, flavorings. A meal seems incomplete or unbalanced without them.

And that kind of consistency is a healthier, more sustainable way to feed our microbiome?

Yes. Generally, the kind of wild fermented foods — like kimchi, sauerkraut, or pickles — tend to have a higher diversity of microbes than your store-bought, probiotic-infused yogurts. Whether each individual strain in these foods is good for us is still unknown, but again, higher diversity tends to be associated with better health.

What advice do you have for those wanting to boost the health of their microbiome?

It’s really about creating the right environment for our native microbes, and the best way to do that is by eating a lot of diverse types of fiber for them. I don’t think probiotics or seeking out specific fermented foods is bad, of course, but focusing on fiber is a good first step.

Source: npr

Daily Aspirin Might Ease COPD Flare-Ups

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

Many Americans take a daily low-dose aspirin to protect their hearts. Now it appears aspirin may also reduce flare-ups of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In a study of COPD sufferers, researchers found that aspirin was linked to fewer moderate exacerbations, but not severe bouts, of the lung disease. It also reduced moderate and severe episodes of labored breathing.

“This study highlights that adding aspirin to current treatment regimens may potentially improve the well-being of patients suffering from a burdensome chronic disease while reducing health care utilization,” said lead researcher Dr. Ashraf Fawzy. He is a pulmonary and critical care fellow at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

However, Fawzy said more research is needed before broadly recommending that patients start taking aspirin as part of their COPD treatment.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Fawzy and his colleagues looked at nearly 1,700 people with COPD. About 45 percent of participants reported regularly taking low-dose aspirin at the start of the study. (Low-dose aspirin is generally 81 milligrams.)

The researchers found the aspirin users had fewer flare-ups over three years.

Patients also reported better quality of life and less shortness of breath, compared with patients who did not use aspirin, according to the study.

COPD includes bronchitis and emphysema, two chronic lung diseases. Smoking is its main cause, but long-term environmental exposure to toxic dust or chemicals is another culprit.

Millions of Americans suffer from COPD, and it is the third leading cause of disease-related death in the nation, according to the American Lung Association.

There is treatment but no cure. Medications usually include a bronchodilator that opens the airways, making it easier to breathe, and an anti-inflammatory. In the most severe cases, patients need a constant supply of oxygen.

Aspirin has already shown a benefit in preventing heart attacks and strokes in patients with cardiovascular disease, but its role in COPD has been unclear.

However, because this study can’t actually prove that aspirin caused the reduction in flare-ups, experts aren’t ready to make a general recommendation about aspirin use for COPD.

“It’s really too early to say,” said Dr. Alan Mensch, senior vice president for medical affairs at Plainview and Syosset Hospitals in Long Island, N.Y.

“COPD is a chronic condition where we really have limited options to treat patients,” said Mensch, who wasn’t involved in the new research.

Although new treatments would be welcome, he said it’s hard to tell from this study if aspirin really reduced flare-ups.

That’s because it was what’s called an observational study. Researchers compared patients who self-reported they did or didn’t take aspirin, but weren’t randomly assigned to one group or the other.

Fawzy added that “a randomized controlled trial of aspirin use in patients with COPD is warranted to rigorously assess whether aspirin is beneficial in this patient population.”

One problem in comparing COPD patients is that many suffer from other conditions. Most COPD patients, for example, also have cardiovascular disease, Mensch pointed out.

However, he noted that other studies have found aspirin may extend the life of COPD patients and slow the progression of emphysema. “It may help,” Mensch said.

So how exactly might aspirin work its magic? Mensch noted aspirin is an anti-inflammatory, which might explain the reduction in COPD flare-ups.

The report appears in the journal Chest.

Source: HealthDay

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