Why Your Favorite Fast Food Chain Has A Seasonal Fish Sandwich

Unless you're standing inside a Long John Silver's, you probably need to scan a restaurant's menu before deciding whether or not you want a fish sandwich. This might not be the case, however, if you observe Lent, the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. During this period, some (though not all) members of various Christian faiths often give up a common practice, and eating meat — especially on Fridays — is one of the most popular choices.

Those who practice the fasting or abstaining aspect of Lent do so to recognize the period Jesus spent fasting in the desert, as well as the subsequent sacrifice he made. Since he died on a Friday, many people abstain from their habit of choice on Fridays during Lent. Originally, this practice was meant to help people strengthen their bond with God, but in modern times, some also do it to perform self-care or improve their mental or physical health.

Because of Lent, many fast food restaurants roll out a seasonal fish sandwich around the same time each year to lure back meat-averse customers. Some have been doing so for years, while others only recently began vying for that subset of paying shoppers.

Some fast food fans prefer a particular chain's sandwich

The season of Lent often introduces several fast food fish options, though some are better liked than others. Chick-fil-A's seasonal fish sandwich has consistently been a favorite, so many were surprised when the chain didn't bring it back in 2024. While some customers were disappointed, this did vacate the spotlight for other options.

One of the more recent entries, Popeyes' Flounder Fish Sandwich, launched in 2021. During its 2024 return, customers can order it either Spicy or Classic. Burger King also kicked things up a notch in 2024 with its limited-time Fiery Fish Sandwich — no doubt a response to the rave reviews of Popeyes' item. Made with wild Alaskan pollock and B.K.'s triple pepper spicy glaze, it's arguably a step up from the chain's lackluster, year-round Big Fish Sandwich.

When considering fish sandwiches, it's impossible not to think of McDonald's Filet-O-Fish. This has been a restaurant staple since 1962 thanks to an Ohio McDonald's franchisee, who suggested the chain introduce a fried fish sandwich after realizing his location was losing money every spring. The sandwich eventually became a permanent item, but McDonald's still offers deals on it during Lent.

Wendy's offers a Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich. The breaded wild Alaskan pollock dish has a dedicated following, and after Chick-fil-A discontinued its fish sandwich, some consider Wendy's the best alternative. Don't fall in love, though — you'll have to wait a year to eat it again.