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Yummy. Yucky.

December 15, 2010

Little Miss Fussy is a hoot.  She’s daddy’s little girl.  Mrs. Fussy asked, “What’s your favorite thing.” To which LMF enthusiastically replied, “FOOD!”  Pressing on, Mrs. Fussy asked, “What else?” And the answer was, “Whipped cream.”

The little one can also sing esoteric Talking Heads songs and some obscure, lyrically intense early Dylan.  It’s just that Desolation Row and Gates of Eden just make for good lullabies.

But recently I’ve been reading her this great book that divides the world into a simple dichotomy.  Yummy or Yucky.  You may know a few of these, but stick with me here.  Spaghetti is yummy; worms are yucky.  Burgers are yummy; boogers are yucky.  Fish sticks are yummy; fish food is yucky.


Fish is a pretty sore subject for me. I’d like my grandchildren to be able to eat fish that lived in the wild.  But I think right now that future is far from certain.  We don’t eat that much of it, and before this book came into the house my children had no idea something called fish sticks existed.

When I do buy fish I make a point to consult with Seafood Watch to make sure I’m making good choices.  And you know what?  Many fish sticks are surprisingly not that bad from a sustainable seafood perspective.  I for one was quite surprised.

So guess who bought some fish sticks?

The thing that pushed me over the edge was stumbling onto a brand of frozen fish sticks that didn’t seem to be over-processed junk food.  Oddly, such a thing exists.

And odd is a good word, because it’s unlikely you’ve heard of the Dr. Praeger’s line of products before.  You have to get a look at the good doctor and hear a bit about his philosophy before you get the full sense of this frozen food oddity.

Here is the story.  This started out as a kosher frozen gefilte fish company called Ungar’s.  One of the Ungar’s had a heart problem, and after a successful surgery with Dr. Praeger himself, the good doctor became a family friend.  Later, Praeger would buy the company from the Ungar’s and create a line of sensible frozen foods, with his cardiac patients in mind.  By sensible, I mean healthful and tasty food that an early reader could make it through the ingredient list.

This is what is in their fish sticks:
Pollock Fillets (Wild), Breading (Unbleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Corn Starch, Yeast, Sugar, Salt, Dextrose, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Spices), Expeller Pressed Canola Oil


Turns out that fish sticks were one of Mrs. Fussy’s favorite foods as a child.  I had no idea.  After many years of marriage, there aren’t many surprises left.  This caught me a bit off-guard.  Actually as a kid I ate my fair share, but they are not as redolent of the carefree days of my youth as they are for her.

She was unsure if these fancy-pants fish sticks would measure up to her taste memory.  After all, she and both the kids rejected the Heinz Organic Ketchup because its flavor profile differed from that of the red bottle they had come to enjoy.  On a side note, Simply Heinz ketchup has gotten the Fussy Children’s Seal-of-Approval and it contains no HFCS.

Bottom line, these odd Dr. Praeger’s fish sticks were a hit with everyone.

The Profussor: Happy with sustainable fish and a short ingredient list.
Mrs. Fussy: Happy with a quick (20 minutes in the oven) comfort food.
Young Master Fussy: So happy he went back for thirds.
Little Miss Fussy: Happy to be living her book, but she’d rather have beans.

Looks like these buggers will be giving Kraft Macaroni and Cheese a run for its money when we have the need for an “emergency dinner.”

16 Comments leave one →
  1. AddiesDad permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:31 am

    We buy their veggie burgers, and are big fans. I’ll check out their fishsticks. I like making my own, but it’s a pain.

  2. Vanessa Gabor permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:51 am

    where do you find these fine fish sticks in the area?

  3. Bob W. permalink
    December 15, 2010 12:16 pm

    I assume the “Yummy/Yucky” book is by the same author as “Quiet/Loud”? If so, I will have to hie myself to the bookstore for a copy, as “Quiet/Loud” is a huge hit in our house.

    And to echo Ms. Gabor — where does one find these fine fish sticks in our area?

  4. Mirdreams permalink
    December 15, 2010 12:55 pm

    I have also enjoyed the Dr. Praeger’s fish sticks ( I think I found them originally through hungry girl back in the day I like to use them to make fish sandwiches with minimum effort. You can find them in the “health food section” of many local Hannaford’s and most likely P-Chops as well.

  5. Stevo permalink
    December 15, 2010 1:01 pm

    Amazingly, my 3 year old daughter loves any mild whitefish. We tell her it’s chicken and she doesn’t know the difference. I sauté the fish with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt and she eats it up. More recently she’ll eat bites of salmon off of my wife’s plate. I’m hoping to work that into her diet on occasion too.

  6. December 15, 2010 1:08 pm

    My mom used to buy me Dr. Praeger’s spinach pancakes. Because, you know, he’s a DOCTOR!

  7. Phairhead permalink
    December 15, 2010 1:39 pm

    I’m a big fan of the Dr.’s potato cakes & broccoli cakes, a definite yum :D

  8. AddiesDad permalink
    December 15, 2010 2:28 pm

    According to Dr. Praeger’s website, nearly every Hannaford and most (I’d assume full-size) Price Choppers in the area carry their products.

  9. Ellen Whitby permalink
    December 15, 2010 2:49 pm

    You’re a little far off to be making plans about grandchildren, no?

    I know Dr. Praegers, though we’ve only had their other stuff (spinach burgers or something). They’re okay…the ingredient list is impressive. When it comes to fish, though, the fresh fish is always less expensive, fresher, and if you can consult the seafood watch list, a potentially better choice. If you lay the fillets out on a cookie sheet, drizzle some lemon, sprinkle some salt and other seasonings, it will cook (broil) in fewer than your 20 minutes for fish sticks (which also requires preheating the oven, I believe). In fact, if I come home from the grocery store, I can prepare the fish and put everything away while the fish is cooking. Dinner is ready just as I’ve finished setting the table.

    PS. Yay Simply Heinz!!

  10. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    December 15, 2010 9:13 pm

    No nostalgia for them here. Catholic Fridays=fish sticks. Yuck.

  11. Barbara permalink
    November 8, 2012 11:41 pm

    Dear Ms. Fussy,
    I commend you for your sustainable consciousness, as proven by your consultation of seafood watch (for those who are fish / seafood fans, I urge you to also check out your consumer choices that impact the ocean at!

    I am curious, do you know what kind of Wild Pollock fillets Dr. Prager’s fish sticks uses? I wasn’t able to find the specific type, or where it was caught, which all makes a difference when making sustainable choices. I ask because I would like to make sure I’m not purchasing items with Iceland caught fish that seafood watch recommends consumers AVOID due to trawling practices. Thanks in advance for any insight!

  12. Jacki C permalink
    April 2, 2014 2:34 am

    please tell me the title of this story? One of my preschoolers was singing it!

  13. August 25, 2017 9:26 pm

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    • August 25, 2017 10:18 pm

      Thanks for noticing. It’s true. I do not monetize the FLB. For what it’s worth, I think other people notice too, and I suspect they like it that way.


  14. August 28, 2017 11:07 am

    Being a blogger myself, I looked up that suggested search term. The link is for sites which have been banned from Adsense. I happen to be in that category (for another site, years ago) and have no reason why. And of course there’s no way a small site can appeal to Google directly. So I suspect people who are attracted to this are uniquely clueless about the dark web and consequently vulnerable. Stay away.

    And, I agree, the objectivity of not having advertising is likely “worth” more in the long run.

  15. August 28, 2017 11:08 am

    Also, I find it fascinating that 86Margorie would have glommed onto a random post from 7 years ago. What’s up with that?

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