The Simple Explanation For The Tuna Brand Name Chicken Of The Sea

"I know it's tuna, but it says chicken by the sea," Jessica Simpson famously marveled on her 2003 reality TV show. Though her perplexed then-partner replied that the product's brand name is, in fact, Chicken of the Sea, the moment of confusion caught serious waves in pop culture and continues to ripple in meme form today.

The tuna can label may cause pause to the uninformed, but the packaged fish has an origin story to explain the meaning behind its somewhat curious name. In 1914, Van Camp Seafood began catching seafood and canning it for purchase. It wasn't until 1930 that the business rebranded and labeled its tins with the familiar Chicken of the Sea moniker. So why chicken?  The white albacore that fishermen pulled in was light in flavor and color compared to other catches, thus, the tuna fishermen would remark that their catch was actually the chicken of the sea.

A versatile fish for recipes

The fishermen weren't wrong. When comparing albacore tuna to other tuna types, the mild-tasting fish is easy to incorporate in dishes that don't demand the addition of an overly fishy or briny flavored ingredient. Skipjack and yellowfin tuna are also referred to as "light" tuna species, but these fish varieties can pack stronger, more noticeable flavors, and the texture of these fillets can vary, even when packaged in pouches and cans.

Similar to chicken, tuna can be prepared and used in a variety of recipes. Loaded with health-boosting vitamins and minerals and offering a hearty dose of protein, tuna serves as a quick addition to dishes without the prep work needed to add a cut piece of chicken thigh or raw chicken breast. With a quick opening of a can, you can be on your way to making a satisfying tuna casserole for tonight's dinner or mashing together ingredients for a spruced-up tuna salad recipe – all while remembering the dexterity and quick wit of the fishermen who helped deliver and name Chicken of the Sea.