Before the Filet-O-Fish, McDonald’s had a wildly different idea in mind

(NEXSTAR) – McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc didn’t precisely have excessive hopes for the Filet-O-Fish sandwich.

In reality, he was betting towards it.

In the early Nineteen Sixties, McDonald’s solely supplied a handful of things, together with hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes, delicate drinks, espresso and milk. This introduced an issue for McDonald’s franchisee Lou Groen, whose clientele in Cincinnati largely abstained from consuming meat on Fridays.

“That area was 87% Catholic,” Groen as soon as defined to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “On Fridays we only took in about $75 a day.” 

Inspired by the gross sales of a competitor’s fish sandwich, Groen determined to develop his personal, made with fried halibut and tartar sauce. But first, he needed to get it OK’ed by the fits at McDonald’s, lots of whom had reservations due to its “more complicated cooking process,” in keeping with the chain.

Ray Kroc was among the many skeptics. Plus, he already had plans for his personal meat-free “Hula Burger,” consisting of a slice of grilled pineapple and cheese. (He additionally believed that McDonald’s eating places could be “stunk up with the smell of fish” because of Groen’s concept, Groen as soon as informed the Cincinnati Business Courier.)

Lucky for Groen, Kroc was prepared to attempt each concepts and let the gross sales converse for themselves.

“Ray said to me, ‘Well, Lou, I’m going to put your fish sandwich on (the 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,’” Goren informed the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Kroc additionally made a “side bet” with Fred Turner, one other McDonald’s govt, that the Hula Burger would promote higher than the Filet-O-Fish — the stakes being a brand-new swimsuit.

On the day of the check, Groen’s restaurant offered 350 fish sandwiches and solely six Hula Burgers. So not solely was Kroc mistaken in regards to the Filet-O-Fish, however he now owed his colleague a brand new swimsuit.

Kroc wasn’t too bummed, in fact, as a result of “McDonald’s got the Filet-O-Fish,” in keeping with McDonald’s historian Mike Bullington.

After a bit of little bit of tweaking (e.g., halibut was swapped for Atlantic cod, a slice of cheese was added), the brand new McDonald’s fish sandwich started to be embraced by franchisees throughout the nation. In 1965, it was added to the restaurant’s everlasting nationwide choices, turning into the primary new addition to the unique McDonald’s menu.

Groen, in the meantime, loved continued success as a McDonald’s franchisee into the Nineteen Eighties, working dozens of eating places in Ohio and Kentucky. He handed in 2011, however remained a fan of the Filet-O-Fish all through his last years — however he nonetheless most popular his authentic model to the sandwich that ended up on the nationwide menu.

“My halibut sandwich far outshines that one,” he remarked to the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2007.

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