Kevin Patrick Law - May 2021

The Bet That Spawned the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich Inside the McDonald’s History Books

Every day, 68 million people dine under the iconic golden arches of McDonald’s. If you’re one of them, then you’re probably intimately familiar with one of the most famous offerings on the menu after the McRib and the Big Mac: the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich. This bestselling entree looks simple enough. It features a fried square of wild-caught fish nestled under a slice of American cheese and a smear of tartar sauce. But it has a contentious history. In fact, Ray Kroc, the owner of McDonald’s who was immortalized in the 2016 movie “The Founder,” didn’t want the fishy offering on the menu. It ended up there anyway for one of the oldest reasons in the world: Kroc lost a bet. The story starts back in 1962 in Cincinnati, Ohio. That year, an enterprising McDonald's franchisee named Lou Groen had a problem. His customer base was largely Catholic and abstained from eating meat on Fridays (not to mention during Lent!), and they weren’t buying enough burgers to keep his restaurant afloat. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, on Fridays, Groen pulled in just $75 per day. To combat that lack of sales, he masterminded a beef-free option, and the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich was born. The problem came when Groen pitched the entree to Ray Kroc. The founder didn't approve. In a 2006 interview with Business Courier, Groen recalled Kroc’s reaction: “You’re always coming up here with a bunch of crap!” he said. “I don’t want my stores stunk up with

the smell of fish.” But at the end of the day, Kroc’s motivation was profit. So the two men made a bet. On Good Friday in 1962, select McDonald's would put both the Filet-O-Fish and a different meatless option, the pineapple-centric Hula Burger, on their menus. The entree that sold the best would stick around. Since you’ve probably dined on a Filet-O-Fish and never heard of the Hula Burger, you can guess what happened. Groen sold 350 Filet- O-Fish sandwiches. And Kroc? Well, he moved just six Hula Burgers. Fishy smell or not, the filet was there to stay. Want to read up on more fast-food capers? Pick up the book “Drive- Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America's Fast-Food Kingdom” by Adam Chandler. His KFC stories will blow your mind.


Shaved Asparagus Salad

Tangy citrus and salty Parmesan cheese complement earthy, fresh asparagus, a favorite spring vegetable with a short growing season.

Ingredients • 1 lb asparagus spears

• 1/2 tsp kosher salt • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 1 tbsp lemon juice • 1 tsp Dijon mustard • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated Directions 1. With a vegetable peeler, shave each asparagus spear from tip to base. This is easiest to do if the asparagus is on a flat surface. 2. Place shaved asparagus in a bowl and blot off excess moisture with a paper towel.

3. In a separate bowl, make a vinaigrette by whisking together lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. 4. Pour vinaigrette over shaved asparagus and add Parmesan cheese, salt, red pepper flakes,


and black pepper. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.

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