Tinned Fish Is Having A Moment On TikTok

It's been dubbed the "hot girl food", the "darling of online food culture", the moment's "cultural cachet", and we're not talking about some fancy sous vide wagyu — we're talking canned seafood. The days of water-packed tinned tuna collecting dust in the back of pantries and emergency kits are in the past because tinned fish has entered a trendy new era.

Conservas may seem like an odd niche for foodies, but they're making big waves in the food world, all thanks to TikTok. Bold-colored, stylish packaging adorns cans of seafood — like sardines, mackerel, anchovies, octopus, and more — that are packed in flavorful oils and flying off digital shelves.

But tinned food is no new phenomenon. The first canning method for food preservation dates back to the early 1800s when the French inventor Nicholas Appert developed heat processing in glass jars sealed with wax — which was a response to Napoleon Bonaparte's request for a safe and reliable way to preserve food for his army on the move (via The Spruce Eats). Shortly after in 1810, Englishman Peter Durand concocted what we now know today as canning using tins.

Conservas have long been considered a delicacy in places like Spain and Portugal, but they are finally getting the attention and respect they deserve in The States. This new wave of consumers has fallen in love for some of the same reasons tinned food was invented — practicality. Besides being delicious, tinned seafood is transportable, has a long shelf-life, and is fully cooked and ready to enjoy straight out of the can.

One fish, two fish, red fish, canned fish

Some of the hottest tinned seafood brands are having record-breaking fiscal years. According to the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. sales of canned seafood rose 9.7% to $2.7 billion in 2022, according to data provider Euromonitor International, with industry executives crediting the increase to a surge in demand from younger shoppers seeking novel but still affordable foods." To illustrate the magnitude of this trend, Scout Canning's revenue rose a whopping 82% in 2022.

The TikTok trend is spearheaded by Ali Hooke, a San Francisco-based chef and creator who made a "tinned fish date night" video in the summer of 2021. "We just had some tinned fish in the cabinet and so we poured a really nice glass of wine and toasted some sourdough," Hooke told the Wall Street Journal. "That was all we had, but it was so fun and so enjoyable."

Currently, tinned fish TikTok content garners 41 million views and counting. Creators, including Hooke, make videos of their tinned fish boards, serving several conservas with slices of baguette, chips, pickled veggies, and spreads. Hooke attributes this boom to its accessibility because there are no cooking or culinary skills necessary to enjoy. Affordable, healthy, and no cooking required? Sign us up.