The Most Popular Type Of Seafood In The US May Not Be Your First Guess

Love it or hate it, seafood is a popular fixture in American cuisine. It's served in high-end restaurants and fast food, from frozen fish sticks to fresh lobster. Whether it's a fish and hushpuppy platter at Long John Silver's or fresh crab cakes from the coast, many people have their own personal favorite aquatic dinner. But what treat of the sea do Americans love the most?

Salmon and tuna are ranked second and third of America's favorite types of seafood, according to WorldAtlas. In 2018, Americans ate 2.55 pounds of salmon per capita, while also enjoying a smaller but still significant 2.10 pounds of canned tuna per capita (via NOAA Fisheries). It's not hard to see why salmon and tuna are so high-ranking in the American seafood diet. 52% of canned tuna is used in sandwiches, the National Fisheries Institute reports, while salmon is hailed for being not only versatile, but also as a great source for protein, omega-3 acids, and vitamin D (via BBC Good Food). Five types of Pacific salmon can be found in North American waters (via USGS), meaning that Americans have a variety of the fish to choose from to grill, fry, or sear.

But if salmon and tuna are only the second and third most popular types of seafood, what exactly is the first?

Americans hold shrimp as number one

The seafood that Americans turn to more than any other is the humble shrimp. The National Fisheries Institute estimated that Americans ate 4.6 pounds of shrimp per capita in 2018, which is a pretty impressive record.

The roots of the shrimping industry in America date back to the mid-18th century, when Mobile, Alabama, became "a premiere [sic] seafood spot" partially due to its plentiful amount of shrimp, according to the American Shrimp Processors Association. The introduction of the railroad and advancements in the canning and ice manufacturing industries in the mid-1800s helped spread seafood across the United States. Popular legend credits the serving invention of one of the most popular shrimp dishes — shrimp cocktail in a glass — to a California miner in the 19th century, before it was widely popularized in Las Vegas during the 1950s (via Glass and Vine). In 1996, Forrest Gump's fictional shrimp company Bubba Gump became a reality, finding a home from New York City's Times Square to Mall of America in Minnesota. 

Whether fried into bite-sized servings, dunked into tangy sauces, or stirred into pasta, it seems that shrimp certainly isn't a "little shrimp" when it comes to Americans and seafood.