Mmmmm ... smell that? Smell that warm, buttery air? That, friends, is the savory, silky aroma of fish sticks in the oven. That's right, compadres. Let it wash over you like a golden-fried rain cloud. Breathe deep. You want a fish stick. You need a fish stick. Where the hell are you going to find your next fish stick?? Calm down. We're with you, our little fish fiends. We know that with so many fish sticks in the sea, it's hard to reach your own conclusions about battered fish snacks. You need help. That's why we're here.
$3.99 for 22 ounces
Though these diminutive sticks resembled "turds," "dog treats" and "little mutants," they somehow managed to fare much better than the full-sized Gorton's sticks we tried. Meaning, as far as "spongy" little fish bites go, these one's didn't completely suck. "It's not so much what they have as what they don't," said one tester. "There's no unpleasant aftertaste, and the fish isn't overly slimy." Hey, at least it's mediocre!
$4.59 for 11.4 ounces
We started off with high hopes for Gorton's. They did, after all, come up with the first commercially packaged cod cake nearly a century ago. Yet, in all that time, you'd think they might have come up with something better than "meh." Gorton's original fish sticks were solidly in the middle. Though they were "krunchy!" and perhaps the best-looking of the sticks we sampled, their "fishy," "gross" interior didn't win over any fans. We're for-gainst them.
$3.59 for 8 ounces
Ian's classic fish stick was the largest of the bunch we tried. Too bad the "plump" planks were also "peaked and anemic-looking," with a "disturbing" gray coloration. Fear not, for these corporal fish sticks "look far more repulsive than they actually taste." We detected a persistent garlic powder bouquet with lingering notes of "Molly McButter." Some fish flavor was discernible to most of our tasters, though their impressions ranged from "fishy in a bad way" to "flavorful" to just "OK."
Ian's Allergen Free Recipe
$4.99 for 8 ounces
At last—a food product specially designed for all of us wheat-, gluten-, dairy-, egg-, nut- and soy-intolerant fish stick fanatics! Despite Ian's "all-natural" ingredients, the tumeric-yellow color of this fish stick was too fake for many for our testers. That's because the breading here is actually a "dense," "extra-chewy" veneer of cornmeal and caramel coloring that made our teeth squeak—audibly! Some testers felt the corn coating had both good flavor and consistency without being greasy. Most everyone else agreed that they were overly dry and bland.
$4.39 for 24 ounces
Oddly enough, this generic Midwestern brand got the highest marks across our little board. "Never mind that, as several fellow taste testers have pointed out, it tastes more like a chicken nugget than a fish stick. In my book, that's a good thing," said one tester. It's true. They did taste like chicken—just with a "softer texture and fishy aftertaste." Pair that with a crumbly coating reminiscent of hush puppies, hash browns and Salsbury steak, and you've got a stick fit for a king's dog.
$5.99 for 64 ounces
A blend of eight types of fish
Regardless of what the packaging says, FMV does not mean "For Maximum Value." No, those initials are just fancy talk for "Fuels My Vomit." In a large, dysfunctional family tree of frozen foods, FMV fish sticks are surely the redheaded stepchildren of the bunch. The "pure chemical" taste of these rigid logs could not begin to mask the "totally vile" flavor of "old burnt dinner roles." And—do we detect the faintest hint of burning hair? These satanic sticks are "a crime against nature!"
$0.99 for 6 ounces
A blend of eight types of fish
"A mountain of tartar sauce could not possibly make these edible," said one taster. "Not much fish and not much flavor—just a lot of fried batter." Indeed, the word "hollow" came up time and time again when describing the FisherBoy's embarrassing catch. Here fish sticks have been subjugated to soulless tubes of stale, arid breading. Any hint of fish that we found was "pulpy and insignificant," with "a faint taste of cat food—at best." Ouch! Hang your head in shame, FisherBoy.
The Inside Story
The only kind of seafood I trust is the fish stick, a totally featureless fish that doesn't have eyeballs or fins.
Late last year, an Eastern Ontario man tried to sell a fish stick on eBay that he claimed had a burn mark that looked just like Jesus. Fred Whan said he burned the fish stick while making dinner for his son and his friends. He kept the fish stick frozen for a year after his son remarked that the burn mark resembled our Lord and Savior.