Sardine Taste Test #1

October is a time to celebrate all things scary.

And to some people, there’s not much that is scarier than the prospect of eating canned fish. Like, whole ones. Bones and all.

Long time ago, before everyone could afford to eat fresh stuff all the time, sardine canneries dotted the coastlines of the Northeast and Northwest of the United States. The can of sardines was omnipresent in almost every working class home.

Nowadays, there isn’t one sardine cannery left in the United States. Sure, there are American companies, like Beach Cliff, who sell cans of sardines, but you just don’t see the canneries as much anymore.

Why? Because no one eats them. Most people I know have either never tried sardines out of a can and never will, or they have tried them and they don’t like them.

I won’t bore you with details on the death of the sardine industry in America, but it is an interesting story. If you want more info on the history of sardines, I would recommend this article from the NY Times.

I don’t think that sardines are any one particular type of fish. Personally, I am of the opinion that a “sardine” really just means “really small fish”, but I think that most of the sardines that you will find at the store these days are herring.

What do sardines have to do with getting fit? Omega-3’s. Here’s an article about why we should all be eating more sardines.

What do sardines have to do with Dragon*Con? Not shit, unless you count the fact that if you just polished off a can of sardines you may as well have doused yourself in pussy repellant, because now your breath smells like a seal’s asshole.

So it doesn’t have anything to do with Dragon*Con. In case you haven’t noticed, most things on this site don’t, other than in an intangible “Dragon*Con Encompasses All Eccentric Interests” kind of way. It does have something to do with Halloween though because, as I said, the prospect of actually ingesting a sardine is more terrifying to some people than showing up to Dragon*Con sans costume. That said, I may hand out cans of sardines to trick or treaters this year. (“Here ya go, kids! Nutritious and delicious semi-raw fish!”)

That may be an excellent way to get my house rolled. But it may be worth it just to see the looks on their faces. Decisions, decisions….

Before we get to the main event, I have a confession to make…

I have eaten sardines my whole life. I grew up eating them and I still eat them on a semi-regular basis. Sometimes I’ll get a hankerin’ for some good old-fashioned garbage, and that’s when I’ll go up to the store and buy several tins of “herring snacks” (as they are often called).

Still, not all sardines are created equal. I have had sardines that tasted like a chorus of angelfish were singing in my mouth, and then I’ve had sardines that tasted like the cat had already eaten them once already.

Many times, you can get two tins of the same kind of sardine and they will taste vastly different! Say you buy two cans of “Beach Cliff Brand Sardines with Hot Green Chilis”. The first can may have 10 sardines and one pepper slice, while the next can may have 4 sardines and what looks to be a whole frackin jar of jalapenos dumped in there. One may taste fresh, while the other may taste like it’s been on the bottom shelf at Big Lots for 30 years. You just never know, the sardine can is like a game of roulette if a game of roulette involved the chance of eating 10-year-old rotten fish on accident.

Today’s contenders in “Sardine Taste Test #1” (there will be others) are:

Brunswick Sardines with Olive Oil

Judging by the name “Brunswick”, I’m guessing these are Canadian sardines. I’ve had good luck with the Brunswick brand before, and Olive Oil is good for you, I think, so hopefully Lady Luck will see us through the day without a vehement case of botulism.

King Oscar Sardines with Olive Oil

…aaaand King Oscar sardines, Two Layers of them, apparently! The vague connection with some sort of royalty makes me think that these are going to be better than the Brunswick sardines. This also features Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which for some reason I think is better than the regular olive oil found in the Brunswicks. Olive Oil may make a good “Fitness Jeopardy” topic, because I am obviously uninformed about it.

Opened Can of Brunswick

This is the can of Brunswick sardines, opened. I thought I had taken a picture of the King Oscar sardine can opened up, but apparently I forgot in the heat of the moment. I guess I just got all excited when I opened up the King Oscars and it had like 30 sardines in it, which were all about the size of my thumbnail. These Brunswicks have about 5 sardines packed in there, along with the aforementioned olive oil.

Today the sardines will be served with…

Cracked Pepper Triscuits

Triscuits. Crackers are the standard way of serving sardines, at least to me. I doubt that crackers are very good for you, but since Triscuits taste like they are made from the bark of a tree, they must not be too bad for you. Triscuits are the Grape Nuts of the cracker world, meaning that they are xxxtreme!!!!! No one can half-ass eat Triscuits (or Grape Nuts), ya gotta be dedicated to the revolution in your cracker snacking needs.

Also, tea…

"England's Favorite!"

This shit claims to be “England’s Number One Tea!”, which I have paraphrased above to mean “England’s Favorite!” It’s only number one because it is cheap. It’s pretty much just regular ol tea, nothing fancy, but not too terrible either.

(((Oh snap. Tonight I’m going to see Ghostbusters at my local cinema and it starts soon, so the rest of this post may feel a bit rushed. Sorry, but bustin’ makes me feel gooder than posting on this blog about canned herring snacks.)))

I really wish I had that pic of the opened can of King Oscars…

I started with the Brunswicks. The Olive Oil was a little much, for me. I normally prefer the ones with hot peppers, but thought this olive oil bidness might be better for me. Overall, even though they didn’t look as nice as the King Oscars, they were quite palatable, as tinned whole fish go. Crunchy little backbones and everything. Pretty good. They tasted fishy, but complaining about sardines tasting fishy is like complaining that a turd tastes like shit. I might would buy this type again. I will definitely be eating Brunswicks again soon, but just maybe not these Olive Oil types.

Then I moved on to the King Oscars, which looked like a little colony of fish packed in there. The King Oscars are like the ewoks to Chewbacca. Chewbacca may be great, but there’s so few of him, while there are loads of ewoks, so they just look more impressive.

What a stupid analogy. And right now I’m in an anti-Star Wars funk, from which I may never recover, following my cousin exposing me to the remade Max Rebo Band scene in Return of the Jedi.


FUCKING GROSS. The King Oscars were so small and oily that they melted in my mouth, which is good when you’re talking about chocolates, but not when you’re talking about tiny “kippered” fish.

King Oscar has been really good in the past, so I don’t know what went wrong with this particular can, but they were one of the most horrible cans of sardines I have ever eaten (and this is coming from a guy whose favorite brand of sardines useta be called “Possum Brand”). Needless to say, I ate them all, just to be sure.

And, to be sure, they were completely disgusting throughout the entire ordeal.

I guess I should have taken pictures of the empty cans, just to show that I actually did eat them all, but I guess you could claim that I could have dumped them in the trashcan, which is, realistically, where those King Oscars should have been all along. Right next to the floppy celery I discovered this morning.

So, try some sardines. I promise that there are good ones out there.

Meantime, I’ll be watching the Ghostbusters save the city of New York from Gozer, the taxi cab ghost, and all manner of other paranormal activities.

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15 Responses to Sardine Taste Test #1

  1. 1148BucksX2 says:

    Your hunch is correct, dood–we can’t get “fresh” sardines, as in, cast a net and pull ’em from the water. Sardines are just processed/pickled herring and herring-like fish.

    When it comes to crackers, you’re not likely to do much better than Triscuits ™. As a guideline, the fewer ingredients something has, the better. They’re very straightforward and simple food items, and with a respectable amount of fiber. These are one of the few items you can always count on being in my pantry, along with copious amounts of hummus and/or Kaukauna spread cheese to pair with them.

    The taxi cab ghost…… I think I nearly pissed myself the first time I caught that glimpse of that one.

    • I love Triscuits. I’ve always preferred crackers to cookies, anyway. Even when not trying to be fit and whatnot.

      Just got back from seeing Ghostbusters in the theatre, will post about it tomorrow, but it was a nigh-religious experience.

  2. 1148BucksX2 says:

    Gettin’ senile, forgot to mention that I was somewhat disappointed to read “Sardine Taste Test” in the title yet not see any reference to the classic cringe-worthy moment in The ‘burbs when Tom Hanks had to play the role of the social guy next door with the creepy neighbors. THERE’S your Halloween connection!

    • AAARGH. I definitely should have made a ‘Burbs reference in there somewhere. “That’s a fine Christian name, Hans Christian Anderson…”

      I also meant to somewhere mention that sardines are still very popular overseas. The wife says she ate loads of them in Spain. Don’t know if you’ve been to Akershus in EPCOT Center, but they have tons of different sardine-like items on the cold bar, so I’m assuming sardines are a big deal in Norvay… and also wherever the Klopeks were from… the Black Forest or whatever.

  3. Alton Brown lost a ton of weight, which effectively killed my crush on him. But he did it eating sardines. I bought a can cause he told me to, but it’s still sitting in my cabinet. I got scared.

    Here’s some follow up on his fitnessing if you’re curious:

    • I had no clue who Alton Brown was until I saw a picture of him in that link. The wife, whom I don’t think you have met, works at a Marine Research facility here and he visited there not long after the oil spill and held a charity dinner. Supposedly he was really nice and at least had the decency to pretend to be interested in Sea Lab doin’s.

      Do not be afraid of sardines, just have a some gum or a toothbrush handy to scrub the funk out of your mouth after it’s all over. I actually find them to, most of the time, be quite tasty. But they may be an acquired taste and I just don’t know that b/c I’ve always eaten them.

  4. Caroline says:

    I actually like sardines and like my friend here, have eaten them all my life. Maybe it’s because I am a weird Canadian but I enjoy them with salt and mayo on a soda cracker or straight up. I get the Brunswick ones too, in just regular oil, not sure we even have the olive oil kind here, will have to check that out.

    Anyway, made me wonder how you feel about anchovies since you didn’t seem to enjoy the skinny sardines? How about smoked oysters? Another childhood thing my mom would serve up at parties, an oyster on a smear of mayo on top of a soda cracker. It’s kinda tasty.

    And Triscuits, well I eat them all the time with hummus topped with olive oil and have to blame someone else here for those shenanigans!

    I could do olive oil shooters, I love the stuff. Bet I’d feel a lot better after a night of those than after a night of JD and I don’t know what like a few weekends ago. I think my liver is still pissed at me…

    • Anchovies I’m ok with. I’ll get them on pizza occasionally, but I never just buy a can of them the way I do sardines. I’ve also never tried the smoked oysters, but have been tempted to get them when I see them in the store, in the “weirdo canned meat” section near the sardines. When it comes to oysters, I usually eat them deep southern fried (not so much anymore, due to the “fit” thing), or raw, which is actually how I prefer them. Many times I have eaten a dozen raw oysters for lunch.

      I’ve never mixed mayo with oysters or sardines, but that may be a bit far for me, especially since I’m not a big mayo fan anyway. I like the stuff fine on sammitches and whatnot, I just never eat it “out in the open” so to speak (as in, not on a sammitch).

      I cook with olive oil almost exclusively, except when using some sort of non-stick spray. I do love the stuff also, but for some reason the sardines with olive oil just didn’t really do it for me. I think the Brunswick olive oil may be some particularly potent variety that I am unfamiliar with.

      • Caroline says:

        So no mayo with french fries either I gather…another yummy treat! Not talking about McDonald’s “fries”, I mean real potatoes, fried then dipped in mayo. Yummmm.

        You can also try anchovies on a piece of celery, that’s pretty tasty too.

      • I’ve tried the mayo with fries thing. It’s not too bad, but I dislike french fries anyway. I know that is surprising to hear from a fat guy, but so be it.

        I like celery quite a bit, plus that sounds fairly healthy, so that combo will probably be given a “whirl”.

  5. Commenting on my own post here. Is that allowed?
    Today I ate another can of the King Oscars mentioned above. I didn’t buy another can, I just had another one in the pantry. Since I am cheap and didn’t want it to go to waste, I ate it with some Triscuits.
    Lo and beholden, they were pretty good! So it just proves my point that all cans of sardines are not created equal… even the ones with the matching labels.
    Also, I’m not posting on the weekends anymore because on the weekends I hafta post while at work and that sucks. So no more weekend posts… for at least 5 days or so.

  6. Pingback: Polar Brand Herring Filets… with Mustard Sauce!!! « Fit for Dragon*Con 2012

  7. Pingback: Sardine Review: Angelo Parodi Portuguese Sardines | Fit for Dragon*Con

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