Name Changes of Foods
First published: Monday August 10th, 2020
It's not just dictators who like to change the names of things. Regular people do it too. Usually for money. Sometimes, we even change the names of things that we eat to make them sound more appetizing. In that spirit, here are some foods whose names have changed throughout history.
1. The Slimehead
One day I showed up to my family dinner table in the early 1990s to be greeted with a new and strange dish: orange roughy. It tasted okay I guess. What I didn't know was that the orange roughy was originally known as the slimehead. The name was changed in the late 1970s to make it more palatable. And it worked. I'm pretty certain I wouldn't have eaten anything called slimehead. I'm also pretty certain that the name change was the worst thing to ever happen to the slimehead.
You see, the thing about slimehead is that people originally thought they had a lifespan of 30 years. But it turns out that they can live for up to 200 years. They don't reach even reach sexual maturity until 23–40 years of age. This led to a huge amount of overfishing, as slimehead stocks take approximately forever to regenerate. Within 20 years of the opening of commercial fisheries in New Zealand, most stocks were depleted.
2. The Sablefish
The sablefish is found in muddy sea beds in the North Pacific. It is also delicious.
But even the sweet and savory taste of a miso-glazed sablefish isn't enough to entice the finicky consumers of North America. We need something familiar. Something that we've heard of before. Not something yucky and new.
And thus the "black cod" was born. Never mind that sablefish bears no relation to actual cod. It tastes kind of like cod, I guess. It's the different, but the same. No wonder black cod is a staple of just about every Asian fusion restaurant that has ever existed.
3. Patagonian Toothfish
Eww.. a fish that's made of teeth. That's gross.
Chilean sea bass? That sounds like a fish I know. Plus it's exotic. I'd have no problem paying $20/pound for something like that.
4. The Chinese Gooseberry
Chinese food is delicious. But there are certain things that Chinese people eat which give Westerners the heebie-jeebies. Here, are, a, few, examples. So when someone asks you if you want a Chinese gooseberry, you're maybe a little unsure of how to answer. Thus, in an effort to juice sales, the good people of New Zealand started calling it the "kiwifruit". And it worked! Since 1970, New Zealand's sales of kiwifruit have increased by over 20,000%.
5. Rapeseed Oil
Because cooking with canola oil doesn't make you a sex offender...
6. Whore’s Eggs
Yes, that is what some people used to call sea urchin.
Saving The Planet
Did you know that bluefin tuna used to be considered unappealing? That started to change in the 1960s. Today, a single bluefin tuna can sell for up to $3.1 million. Imagine that someone put a $3.1 million bounty on your head. Your life expectancy would be very short, no matter where you were hiding. And now you can understand why bluefin tuna are threatened with extinction. But there's something we can do about it. Petition for a name change! I hereby recommend that bluefin tuna be renamed to the Atlantic Snotbutt. Who's with me!