Buffalo in the 50s: Buffalo’s favorite fish fry wasn’t always haddock

By Steve Cichon

A good Buffalo Catholic heading out to any decent Buffalo tavern or Holy Name Society dinner for a fish fry would have expected only one Lake Erie fish to be beer-battered and fried for dinner, and it wasn’t haddock.

Before 1960, any good fish fry was made with blue pike, as was being served up at three Trautwein’s locations 60 years ago this week.

Once the most ubiquitous and tasty fish of Lake Erie, the blue pike was over-fished and saw competition from invasive species such as rainbow smelt.

As the blue pike grew more rare, Buffalonians began to acquire a taste for the haddock fish fry, which is a good thing. By the 1970s, the blue pike was generally accepted as extinct.

May 15, 1955.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.