For any good Roman Catholic, Fridays during the holy season of Lent mean giving up one of the most important and tasteful things in one’s life: meat. Though eating meats such as beef, poultry, and pork on Lenten Fridays is seen as taboo, the church has made an exception in the case of fish, leading many fast food restaurants to increase advertising of their respective fish sandwiches.
Enter Long John Silver’s, the nationwide fast food chain that specializes in its infamous greasy concoctions of battered fried fish, chicken, onion rings, hushpuppies, corn on the cob and coleslaw, among others. Once Ash Wednesday comes around, the parking lots at the the two restaurants are as packed as a can full of sardines with dozens of Catholics looking to get their fish fixings on.
To find out what makes the place such a hit with the Catholic community during the holiest of Church seasons, I got together with four of my fellow Rambler staff writers and sat down for a quality deep-fried meal at the West 26th Street location on Friday, Feb. 26. Due to the Lenten holiday being in full swing, Long John Silver’s had a decent sized queue waiting to order. However, after dividing up the various coupons senior Tanner Ziacik’s dad was kind enough to lend us (We happened to run into him at Long John’s as he was ordering a huge family box of fish to-go), we were able to order and had our food on hand within 10-15 minutes.
Long John’s rookie and Prep senior Joe Sala had the fried fish and onion rings. With regards to his meal, Sala commented, “I would like to visit the boat that supposedly catches their fish to see if it’s real or not because whatever the heck I ate did not taste like fish.”
Senior Josh Kurczewski was also a first-timer to the fish joint. “The shrimp was good. It was probably the most edible thing on the menu. However, the onion rings were terrible,” he stated. “I ordered the fried fish, but I think they gave me chicken instead.”
Tim Evans was a former regular of the nautical-themed restaurant but decided to make the return for the evening following a long hiatus. “The coleslaw was a nice little palette cleanser compared to the rest of the fried slop they serve. The corn on the cob was quality.”
“The food is great but the fish has enough grease to feed 5,000,” stated Tanner Ziacik, who had a positive experience at the restaurant.
Though many question the quality of the fried fish Long John Silver’s serves, the company assures the public that their fish is real and meets local health department standards. According to an employee at the 26th Street location who wished to remain anonymous, the fish that they use is made of Alaskan White Tail, which she described as being the most generic fish found in the state, though the fast food chain does not advertise this on the menu. For an extra fee, the restaurant also serves cod upon request for those who actually want to be certain of what type of fish they are ingesting.
Another bestseller on the menu are Long John’s famous hushpuppies. Hushpuppies can best be described balls of fried cornbread, according to the anonymous source. No, they are nothing like donuts.
The restaurant is also known for it’s fried “crunchies” that are attached to the surface of any of their fried foods. When asked about the crunchies, the fast food worker explained they are actually “fried pieces of nothingness,” and are simply byproducts of frying the foods in grease. She said they are actually so popular that people will show up asking just for a box or two of crunchies, which they will happily give out free with no questions asked. “It’s gotten to the point where we will only give them out if they promise to buy something,” she explained. Long John Silver’s crunchies are widely known for their outrageously long half-life and have the ability to last weeks on end and still be consumed.
Overall, I didn’t mind the taste of the food, and considering how cheap the food was with the coupons, I could not care any less about whether or not I was eating was even remotely beneficial to my body. My satisfaction in the experience could best be described in the ten seconds I spent obnoxiously ringing The Captain’s Bell on the way out. For anyone who plans on eating Long John’s food for whatever reason, I highly recommend avoiding any activity for the following 24 hours because you will likely suffer from a grease hangover and may run the risk of vomiting during this time.
As a souvenir from my experience, I did take a box of crunchies home to share with my family, though I was saddened to find that someone had thrown the untouched full box into the garbage before I had the opportunity to try them.
If you are ever in the middle of nowhere and dying of starvation with not another food source in site, I highly recommend you stop by Long John Silver’s for a sure-to-be unforgettable experience.