I feel like fish today.
Whenever my Mother said those words while piling into the car, I would get excited because sometimes, but not all the time, it meant that we would be going to a fast food restaurant where she would indulge in a fish sandwich of some kind while I ate french fries and drank a Coke. The fish sandwich was a guilty pleasure of my Mom and here sandwich of choice came from Burger King and had an amazing name, “The Whaler”.
I am not sure why as a kid I found the name so evocative. Maybe I found it funny that it had the word “whale” in it? While it probably contained very little to no whale at all.
I have had a few conversations over the years as to why they called it, “The Whaler”. Perhaps it is to imply largeness as in this is a “whale of a sandwich” or maybe it just sounds “fishy” enough and matches the style of their flagship product “The Whopper”. Whatever the reason, it was an amazing name and I delighted in saying it while my mother chomped away at in the driver seat of our Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
The Whaler has been around a while. It started in the sixties as a franchisee addition to their menus. Eventually news spread that this fish sandwich was a good idea and by the mid-seventies it was available and being advertised nationally. This original sandwich was breaded and served on a sesame seed bun with lettuce and tartar sauce. It would pretty much stay the same through my of the eighties, although they did release a Cajun Whaler variant in 1987.
But all good things much change and in 1990, while Burger King was reworking its chicken sandwich, they decided to make some changes to the Whaler. Switching the breading style and bun it was served on. They even changed the name to the “Ocean Catch Fish fillet”. No one seemed to mind the change. That is everyone but my Mother.
I couple of years into the nineties, we stopped by a Burger King and she decided to get a fish sandwich for old times sake and she was disappointed enough that she didn’t even finish it. While I didn’t try the new sandwich, I concurred with her just on the basis of the new name. “Ocean Catch Fish fillet” is nowhere near as fun to say as “Whaler”.
The sandwich would go through many other name changes, including the “Big Fish”, which ain’t bad. The Longfish Sandwich, which is amazingly bad and its current name, the generic “Premium Alaskan Fish Sandwich”.
I know Burger King is always trying out some clever marketing, so maybe now is a good time to go retro with their fish sandwich and bring back the Whaler. Heck, if they did I might even try one this time. Just for old times sake. I leave you with a piece of advertising “that should have been”. A tie-in between The Whaler Sandwich and the 1983 film classic, “Return of the Jedi”. Enjoy.