November 3, 2023  /  Blog

Fish and Chip Friday – where did it all begin?

There’s nothing quite like a chippy tea on a Friday.

As soon as that battered haddock or cod touches your tongue, it instantly whisks you back to your childhood.

Fish and Chip Friday has been a beloved tradition across the country for well over a century, and here at Collins, it’s one tradition we still treasure (and look forward to each week!).

But where did it come from – and how did it all start?


The origins of Fish and Chip Friday

When the Rock and Sole Plaice opened in London’s Endell Street back in 1871, our treasured national dish was born.

However, the origins of eating fish on a Friday long pre-dated that first British chippy.

And like many British traditions it was born out of religion.

You may be aware that, on Good Friday, many Christians don’t eat meat – hence those huge queues every year at your shops.

However, the origins of that Friday chippy tea can also be traced back to the Catholic Church’s practice of abstaining from eating meat every Friday – a practice that was strongly enforced during Lent.

That practice dates to medieval times, and as fish was filling and readily available in coastal parts of the UK, it soon became the de facto replacement for many.

Fast forward a few centuries, and even before the first chippy opened, fish was often a popular choice on a Friday when the fishmonger came to visit (although we doubt he brought any mushy peas).

But everything changed when chippies started popping up.

By the mid-20th century, you couldn’t escape them. At one point, Britain had around 35,000 chips shops and fish and chips was firmly established as the national dish.

That boom was largely due to the fact they were so affordable.

So the rock-bottom prices – coupled with widespread – made fish and chips the obvious choice for that quick Friday night dinner, when the last thing anybody wanted to do after a hard week of work and school was to cook.

The popularity only continued to soar during WW2 – as British households had to live with rationing, protein was often scarce. However, fish was a cheap and readily available source and chippies continued to flourish during the conflict.

The Government allowed the fryers to stay on, and despite rationing, a constant supply of potatoes and fish continued to flow – meaning the dish became a morale-boosting and filling favourite during the UK’s darkest hour.

And that not only cemented its popularity as the UK’s most beloved meal, but also further helped establish the tradition of Fish Shop Friday.


What about the modern day?

As you’ll know, fish and chips sadly isn’t as cheap as it was during the blitz. However, Fish and Chip Friday is still a beloved part of British life.

Friday is still the busiest day at chippies up and down the land, and still marked in households throughout the UK.

And there are plenty of things you can do as fryers to keep the tradition going.

Special offers are always welcome with customers – perhaps more so than ever during the cost-of-living crisis. Throwing in a free tub of mushy peas or a can of D&B can often ramp up footfall in your shop.

And what about just making people feel a bit nostalgic?

Fish and Chip Friday was a big part of people’s lives growing up. If you have a social media page, why not remind them about how special it is by posting about Fish and Chip Friday – or even sharing some old pictures from yesteryear to remind them just how special a day it can be.

We’d love to see how you celebrate Fish and Chip Friday – share with us on social media, and make sure you follow us on Facebook, X, Instagram and LinkedIn to see how we mark the occasion, too.

Collins Seafoods
Collins Seafoods

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Collins Seafoods North East

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01325 315544

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Unit 2, Felnex Crescent, Cross Green Industrial Estate, Leeds, Yorkshire, LS9 0SN

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