Gorton's Wants To Know If You Noticed Anything Fishy About Their Fish Sticks

Reader Dave was doing an online survey about Gorton’s Fish Sticks packaging — and it looks like something fishy is going on…

Dave says:

I was doing an online survey and was questioned about my opinion on fish-sticks.

I’m sure other readers would also note the difference, however, they must assume the panelists to be daft.

What else was I expected to notice? His slicker is now Land’s End?

I probably won’t be empaneled any time soon.

Here are the questions Dave was asked:

Perhaps this is too deep a look into the minds that are responsible for the Grocery Shrink Ray. The abyss stares back and all that…


Edit Your Comment

  1. KernelPanic says:

    60% is a lot of filler/floor scrapings…


  2. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    Floor scrapings! That’s probably not far from the truth.

  3. winstonthorne says:


  4. mugsywwiii says:

    How much did it contain before?

  5. homerjay says:

    Floor scrapings! hah! :)

    • EBounding says:


      “Ah, finally a little quiet time to read some of my old favorites… Honey-roasted peanuts. Ingredients! Salt, artificial honey-roasting agents…pressed peanut sweepings! Mmmmmm…”

  6. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Dave needs to become a commentor so that we can put a star next to his name.

  7. josephbloseph says:

    Floor scrapings is a little on the crass side. Is that really what you thought? I personally try to be as helpful as possible with online surveys.

    Also, I don’t think this fits the Grocery Shrink Ray tag; Both images indicate 24.5 oz. If you have an image of a current or previous package with a higher weight, that would be one thing, but this is just a comparison of two potential box designs for the same product, right?

    • tkozikow says:


      Yes, this is a packaging design test…something that CPG companies run every day. I don’t know which is the original package, but I don’t see how advertising that 60% of the fish stick is something OTHER than fish is a good idea.

    • picardia says:

      @josephbloseph: It fits the shrink ray tag because, even though the same weight of fishsticks included, the new highlighting of the “40% minced fish” suggests that there may have been more fish before. So, same weight, more floor scrapings, less fish = shrink ray.

      Of course it’s possible the fishsticks were always only 40% minced fish, or that this is actually an improvement, though God only knows what was in the fishsticks before.

    • PinkBox says:

      @josephbloseph: I think in this case, the thing that is shrinking is the product quality.

      I like fish sticks since it was a childhood staple, although I don’t eat them all that often.

      I can honestly say that if I saw that package, the fact that it says it is only 40% minced fish would definitely turn me off. I WOULD notice it, and there is no way I’d buy it.

      I’m also one of those that pays a lot of attention to how many are inside. I’d be a lot more inclined to purchase the brand that specified a number.

    • humphrmi says:

      @josephbloseph: I’m not sure if I’d call it crass. Telling me that my food contains “40% of what we advertise that we’re selling you” and not telling me what the other 60% is, is them making a choice to leave it to my imagination. And I can imagine a lot. If they want to be clearer, they have that choice.

    • lordargent says:


      Grocery stink ray.

  8. nicemarmot617 says:

    Gorton Fish Sticks were my first introduction to seafood as a child. I reluctantly ate one stick at my mother’s nagging, and then about five minutes later, I barfed it up. If you think non-partially-digested Gorton’s is disgusting, well…

    I’ve never really liked fish since.

    • DrGirlfriend says:

      @nicemarmot617: Equating Gorton’s with actual fish – now, that’s not fair to fish.

    • Parapraxis says:


      nicemarmot, I know you had a horrible experience as a child, but if you ever get the chance, definitely try sushi with a expert sushi chef someday. It will really open your eyes. Case in point:

      I had the distinct pleasure of watching my favorite sushi chef slice and prepare an amazing cut of japanese mackerel right in front of me from the entire fish that he bought that day.

      Swoops with the knife, cuts the meat away from the shiny, glowing flesh and takes the fillet with a deft hand.

      Inspects the cut, carves a fat slice, and puts it on a tiny square of rice. Hands it to me, and I eat it.

      The smooth mouth feel, slightly cool sensation was incredible.

      What does this have to do with floor scrapings? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. That’s the point.

    • Jackasimov says:

      @nicemarmot617: Man, that sucks for you. I like them (ever since grade school) and my wife and daughter do too. We also like sushi.

  9. BPorche says:

    Actually, grocery shrink also applies to reducing the content in the food but keeping the weight the same. In perspective, the food becomes a bit more uhh, nothing close to real thing?

  10. mabus says:

    why do they show a picture of a crusty ol’ fisherman on the box? what they should show is a picture of a monolithic hydraulic machine with a bevy of rotating knifes which are used to mince enough fish so that each stick has exactly 40% fish and 60% God-knows-what

    at least then, i’d be more apt to buy their product because i know they’re not lying to me and the other consumers.

  11. mike says:

    When it comes to packaging, the more “minced” something is, the cheaper it is to produce since care does not need to be a factor.

  12. B says:

    40% fish parts? I would have guessed much lower.

  13. strathmeyer says:

    Who buys “fish” without knowing what kind of fish it is? I don’t even like tilapia.

  14. ashlux says:

    I think I figured out what the remaining 60% of the fish sticks are: [www.consumeraffairs.com]

    40% fish, 25% breading, 35% pills


  15. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Although [citation needed], Wikipedia has this to say about the production of fish sticks:

    Fillets are formed into frozen blocks. A conveyor sends the blanks through batter and breadcrumbs, doubling the thickness of the fishstick. Then each is passed through a hot vegetable oil bath for about one minute to seal the coating and allow the fishstick to be grilled or fried. Then the fishstick is frozen again, with the center reaching -4°F/-20°C in less than 20 minutes. After packaging, it is stored at -18°F/-28°C, ready for distribution.

    Well, sheesh, if the batter/breadcrumbs double the size then I’d buy that 60% of the stick itself is that instead of fish.

    I find Gorton’s to be the most palatable frozen fried fish product, though.

  16. timmus says:

    What’s with all the Spanish on the packaging? Instead of picturing a fishing boat on the icy seas of the North Atlantic, I picture a steamy factory in Tampico. They seriously need to think about the image they’re conveying.

  17. Gopher bond says:

    Don’t care what goes in ’em as long as they sweep the ocean floor clean to make more.

  18. kerry says:

    I noticed that the package says “Trusted since 1849.” Shouldn’t it be more like “Trusted from 1849-2008”? That even seems generous, now that I’m looking at it. I suspect this product bears no resemblance to the one sold 150 years ago.

  19. SkyeBlue says:

    I did this survey also and immediately questioned why they would put “contains 40% minced fish fillets” on the carton. Didn’t they think that some CONSUMERISTS might question what the heck the remaining 60% of the product is comprised of? Hopefully nothing from China!

  20. snoop-blog says:

    Fish sticks, Pissing off children everywhere since 1949!

    However now that I’m older, I love the shit out of em!

    • Mr.SithNinja says:

      @snoop-blog: Man, I grew up on fish sticks with Mac and Cheese. Still one of the best easy dinners you can make.

    • lincolnparadox says:

      I don’t know what the big deal about minced fish is. If you like tuna in a can, you’re eating minced fish. Heck, the only difference between canned and foil-packed tuna is cook time.

      If you want to worry about anything, worry about excessive lead, iodine and mercury in your seafood.

      @snoop-blog: I love them too. People just don’t understand that fish sticks are just a crunchy vehicle for tartar sauce.

      • snoop-blog says:

        @lincolnparadox: Genius! a vehicle indeed!

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @lincolnparadox: It isn’t that 40% of it is minced fish, it’s that 60% of it is something else. If it was clear that the other 60% was just the breading and some fish that wasn’t minced that’d be one thing. My first assumption was that there are fillers in it.

        Heck, the only difference between canned and foil-packed tuna is cook time.

  21. I say go the other way.

    Create packaging that proudly announces that its contains 40 percent real minced fish.

    Really, I think this will confuse people. We have been trained to see this as showing that a product was degraded and then reimproved after consumer backlash. So if you proudly announce it has 40 percent real minced fish, we’ll assume Gorton’s used to be worse.

    Gorton’s, call me.

    • superhumanben says:

      @twophrasebark: Although I see your point I find it hard to not think of it as wondering what it had been in the past. I’d hope if they were making an improvement they would say “Now with 40%” as to imply an improvement. If they’re just now being honest… I would say 40% wouldn’t be a point to brag and to just leave our taste buds confused as to the magically delicious fish-like concoction.

  22. RoscoeInsect says:

    I wonder, did reader Dave happen to sign a confidentiality agreement before taking that survey? They usually prompt you to type I AGREE in all caps in a box before you do the survey. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you Dave by breaking that agreement just to post here!

    • _NARC_ says:

      @RoscoeInsect: Yeah, I’ve done those surveys in the past (seems pretty clear by the phrasing of the question) and there’s always a confidentiality clause before you begin.

  23. crazyasianman says:

    I have to say that I laughed pretty hard when I saw the part where he typed in “floor scrapings”. yep, folks looked at me funny

  24. glycolized says:

    I’m pretty sure consumers like that their fish stick is 60% breading. If the person eating it wanted a good piece of fish, they wouldn’t be eating fishsticks. I think it’s kinda like broccoli smothered with cheese – you’re “eating well”, getting your veggies and all.

  25. Red_Eye says:

    The other 60% is Soylent Green…………..

  26. redandjonny says:

    40% Fish? I’m beginning to wonder about their definition of fish is…and does it include Goldfish?

  27. backbroken says:

    40% is minced fish.

    The department of truth in labelling would like to remind you that this does not mean that the other 60% isn’t minced fish as well.

  28. medeamama says:

    Although I agree with the majority of folks posting here that the product sounds unappealing, as someone who does a LOT of online surveys, didn’t the OP have to agree not to discuss the survey, let alone post screenshots of it on the web?

    I can’t think of a suvey I’ve done for a new product or packaging where I didn’t have to agree to a confidentiality pledge of some sort.

    Okay, I’m ready to get slapped back…

  29. johnnya2 says:

    I am not sure what the problem with 40 per cent minced fish is. You obviously know the breading is not fish, and there could be whole fish. If you go to a restaurant and order chicken tenders there are many products restaurants buy. Some call them chicken fritters, which means it has a higher percentage of breading. The way to see how Gortons or anybody else is doing anything is to compare it to other similar products. What are in Mrs Pauls? I promise you your kids lunch lady doesnt give out the %

  30. Mr.SithNinja says:

    The other 60% is minced bear.

  31. suzy-q says:

    I was going to say the exact same thing. I take a few online surveys a month, and they almost always have a non-disclosure agreement. Hope he doesn’t get in trouble.

  32. Suaveydavey says:

    This particular survey didn’t have an ‘I agree’ button. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.

  33. MissNikki says:

    Floor scrapings…*giggle*

  34. suzapalooza says:

    Eat no fish stick that is minced. They taste as thought they have already been chewed at least once.

  35. bohemian says:

    I remember when the inside of a fish stick looked like a piece of fish, at least the more expensive ones. I bought some for the kids a couple of years ago and it had this 1/4 in strip of some sort of quasi fleshy goo inside a ton of breading. That was the last time I bought fish sticks.

    Just more of the slow quiet devolving quality of processed food.

  36. ChuckECheese says:

    For those of you who are not too proud to eat fish sticks but are perhaps bored with them:

    Fish sticks
    corn tortillas
    shredded cabbage (cole slaw mix or shred your own)
    mayo or ranch and/or salsa
    diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, sliced radishes

    Make tacos.

  37. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads, fish heads, fish heads…eat them up…yum!!!!!!

    Don’t mince your words or your fish.

  38. DivineBrevity says:

    At 60% filler/floor scrapings, it not technically a “fish stick” it’s a “scrapings and cardboard stick” with added fish flavor. They can’t even do a 51% fish to filler ratio!

  39. Since the majority of the product isn’t what it’s being advertised as…shouldn’t truth in advertising come out and rename the product to, “Gorton’s Fish-like Sticks”?

  40. SadhviTurco says:

    Actually I believe it is Portugese. Since Glouster MA where Gortons is located has a high percentage of Portugese in it’s population. Also Gorton’s sells a lot more product in NE which also has a large amount of Portugese settlement. Oh, and Spanish is TAKING OVER THE COUNTRY as the number 1 spoken language.

  41. Urgleglurk says:

    Fish Stick: “Something not quite totally unlike fish.” An artificial, processed fish-like food product substance.

    “So long and thanks for all the fish sticks!” NOT!
    With apologies to the dear departed Douglas Adams

  42. ThatSaabGuy says:

    I really wish products sold in the Untied States would stop putting Spanish on all their packaging. You come here, you should learn English, period; companies who take the lazy way out and go bilingual are no better than the lazy fucks who refuse to speak anything but Spanish in public, and demand Spanish-language public services and all manner of things. Hey folks, get a clue – you don’t see English-language packaging and services in Mexico, why the hell should we give it to you up here? It’s wrong, and makes me sick.

  43. DitzyMitzy says:

    I’d bet that they used to have more than 50% minced fish and now that they have only 40%, the product is no longer considered fish. So if they still call the product “fish sticks” they must follow with a disclaimer.

    Kind of like a package that proclaims “Whole Grain Bread” and underneath in smaller letters states “Contains whole grain.”.