McDonald’s is prepared to target a more pious crowd for the season of Lent with its latest innovation – Fish McBites.
Fish McBites was first reported on Tuesday, a day before the start of the Christian season of fasting on Ash Wednesday.
It was pictured at a McDonald’s branch near Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, which may strengthen the impression that it is aimed at the faithful who have denied themselves the pleasure of meat.
Fish McBites appear to be modeled on Chicken McBites, a version of popcorn chicken introduced over the last few months.
But it is also inspired by the Filet-O-Fish, a fixture on the McDonald’s menu for more than four decades and the company’s most popular maritime product so far.
Fish McBites, like the Filet-O-Fish, are made from Alaskan pollock and served with tartar sauce.
The new snack is currently available only in selected restaurants, at a price of $1.99 for a small portion, $2.99 for a regular and $4.99 for a “shareable” size.
McDonald’s website trumpets the new product as “tender, flaky and delightfully poppable”, and encourages its customers to “Say ahoy to this seaworthy lineup”.
A McDonald’s spokesman told the Huffington Post: “These are in test in a couple of markets, however the test is in infancy. We will continue to evaluate customer feedback and restaurant operations.”
While it is not clear whether or not the timing was deliberate, fast-food restaurants which rely primarily on sales of red meat have been known to suffer during Lent.
During Lent, which this year started on February 22, Ash Wednesday, and ends on Easter Sunday, April 8, devout Catholics are not supposed to eat meat – particularly on Fridays.
Many other people, religious and non-religious alike, try to give up indulgent treats they know are unhealthy.
The Filet-O-Fish itself was introduced in 1962 in response to poor sales every Friday at Lou Groen’s McDonald’s franchise in Cincinnati, Ohio, an area with a large Catholic population at the time.
It has reportedly become popular with other religious groups such as Jews or Muslims who require their meat to be slaughtered in accordance with ritual guidelines, but have no such restrictions with fish.