Fish sticks are underrated. Sure, they might not taste all that great, and they're probably primarily consumed by college kids who are stoned out of their minds. But the important thing to realize, when contemplating whether or not to ingest a breaded fish product, is that the focus should not be on the stick itself, but on the delectable tartar sauce you can (and should) dip it in. Tartar sauce is all even the poorest quality of fish stick needs to become a true delicacy. Fish stick too dry? A dab of tartar will moisten it right up. Does the fish taste overprocessed and slimy? You can't hate what you can't taste, so slather on that T.S. flavor. Whatever fish stick-related problem you encounter, the answer can always be found in the fish stick's favorite cool and creamy buddy.
In the whole gustatory scheme of things, fish sticks rank pretty low on the food chain. Think about it. You're much more likely to see fish sticks on an all-u-can-eat buffet than a respectable menu—and even then, it's really only intended for children. But it's not because they're horrible or anything. I'd gladly eat one over, say, lutefisk. Or raw sea urchin, or the quivering pucks of gefilte fish my grandpa so enjoys at Passover. These things are horrifyingly bad, yet they're all considered delicacies by their respective cultures. So why has the humble American fish stick been banished to the coldest reaches of our grocer's freezer? I'll tell you why. Because they're made out of total crap. Most fish stick brands are so loaded down with fillers and preservatives that some brands—ones I've actually eaten—have close to half a foot of ingredients listed on the package. As a result, commercial sticks often suffer from a slightly stale, chemical taste that can hang around long after you've swallowed it. Fish stick breath. Yech!