10 Long John Silver's Menu Items From The 1980s You Probably Forgot About

Jenna Fischer Long John Silver's
Jenna Fischer Long John Silver's - Jenna Fischer / Instagram

Long John Silver's opened its door for the very first time in Lexington, Kentucky back in 1969. By the following decade, the chain proved to be rather seaworthy on land, with over 1,000 locations across the United States. When the 1980s hit, and eaters were becoming more conscious about their diets, Long John Silver's heeded the siren's call by introducing a slew of lighter fare like salads. Then again, the chain also doubled down on offering up delicious new kinds of fish and seafood, fried to golden perfection.

Long John Silver's may not be sailing as high as it once was, barely making it into this century, but let's forget about now, and focus our attentions to a simpler time, reflecting on that perhaps final golden era of the '80s. A time when the chain employed the talents of NFL stars and actors like Fred Willard and Heather O'Rourke to help sell these items in TV ads. To diehard fans, these dishes may forever be long-gone favorites, but to many others, they've been tossed into the sea of forgotten memories. Let's give these '80s Long John Silver's dishes the second helping they so rightfully deserve.

Read more: The Ultimate Ranking Of American Fast Food Restaurants

Baked Fish & Seafood

Long John Silver's Baked Fish over rice
Long John Silver's Baked Fish over rice - Long John Silver's

In a bid to offer its customers healthier options, Long John Silver's began to unleash some fully baked dishes in 1984. Nebraska franchisee Bob Von Kaenel told the Lincoln Journal Star, "Long John Silver's recognized the changing eating habits of America and wanted to coincide more with the health-conscious attitude that people are taking."

The company's adventures into baked items started with a baked fish dinner, which included a 7-ounce fish filet, served with lemon sauce and a side of coleslaw and garden vegetables. The plate cost eaters $3.99 and netted 400 calories, with the fish itself coming in at a lean 151 calories.

In 1989, Long John Silver's expanded its baked offerings by adding baked cod, cod supreme, shrimp scampi, and even chicken dishes. The shrimp dish included over 18 pieces, and the dishes were all served on a bed of one of the many versions of rice pilaf. Baked fish and seafood were served up well into the following decade, before being discontinued sometime in or around 1997.


Ocean Chef Salad Chiller
Ocean Chef Salad Chiller - Long John Silver's

For a long while, a majority of Long John Silver's menu items were fried, heavy, and served warm. In 1984, with the weather heating up, the chain decided to cool things down a bit with lighter fare in a new line-up called Chillers. The initial offerings included a Seafood Salad, 20-piece peel and eat Chilled Shrimp paired with coleslaw and crackers, and a Chiller Seafood Combo. The mayonnaise-based Seafood Salad featured white fish, crab and tiny shrimp, and the Chilled Seafood Combo offered up the best of both worlds, with a portion of the Seafood Salad and 8 pieces of the Chilled Shrimp.

A year later, the Ocean Chef Salad became the latest Chiller menu option. It consisted of a mix of shrimp, white fish, crabmeat, lobster, cheddar cheese, egg, and veggies. While the Chillers name didn't seem to live much beyond 1985, some of the seafood salads were still served well into the 21st century.

Kitchen-Breaded Fish / Fish Fish Sandwich

Long John Silver's Fish Fish Sandwich
Long John Silver's Fish Fish Sandwich - Long John Silver's

To give a sense of its filets being freshly made in each location, Long John Silver introduced Kitchen-Breaded Fish in 1984. A year later, when the product was launched nationally, it was the focus of a new ad campaign — "Long John Silver's sounds good to me." Mitch Engle of Long John Silver's advertising firm Foote, Cone & Belding told the Lexington Herald-Leader the "unique aspect of the food is the way it sounds — the crunch snap and different texture."

In 1986, Long John Silver's doubled everyone's pleasure with the Kitchen-Breaded filets with its Fish Fish Sandwich. The TV ad loudly took aim at McDonald's Catholic-friendly Fish Filet and other competitors' similar sandwiches, by saying its "fish filets that really look like fish filets, instead of little squares." This sandwich featured two of these hand-cut filets, housed between elongated natural grain buns. Kitchen-Breaded Fish petered out around or after 1989.

Chicken Nuggets

Long John Silver's Chicken Nuggets
Long John Silver's Chicken Nuggets - Long John Silver's

Long John Silver's is mainly a destination for fish and seafood, but chicken options have always been a mainstay on the menu as well. Chicken Planks were introduced in 1976, and various other poultry items have come and gone since. The chicken nugget was invented at Cornell University, and was greatly popularized by McDonald's McNuggets in 1983. Long John Silver's couldn't pass up being a part of the craze and joined the bite-size revolution in 1985.

The chain emphasized that their nuggets were made with 100% white meat, and its TV ads boasted the phrase, "I never knew nuggets could taste this way." Upon its launch, a 4-piece trial size was offered for a mere 99 cents. Long John Silver's nuggets had three dipping sauces: Sweet 'n sour, barbecue, and its own exclusive honey mustard. A 6-piece dinner netted 699 calories, 54 grams of carbohydrates, and 45 grams of fat.

Broiled Dinners

Long John Silver's Broiled seafood
Long John Silver's Broiled seafood - Long John Silver's

While Long John Silver's was embarking on a line-up of baked fare, it also experimented with broiled fish and seafood by 1987. Long John Silver's parent company Jerrico Inc. even invested $150 million in equipment to help get things going. Company president John Tobe told the Lexington Herald-Leader, "We think there's a new customer base that would come to us for broiled fish," adding that it was a great way for the company to increase per-shop profitability by noting, "you can charge more for these dinners."

Carmel, Indiana was the first location to offer broiled options for the chain, before 47 outposts in seven markets served as test markets. The test run entrees included broiled halibut, shrimp, flounder, cod, salmon and swordfish, and ranged in price from $4.59 to $5.99. A year into this new venture, sales weren't as brisk as were hoped, but broiled options hung around on Long John Silver's menus until at least 1997.

Seafood Pasta Salad

Long John Silver's Seafood Pasta Salad
Long John Silver's Seafood Pasta Salad - Long John Silver's

While the Chillers line-up was up and running, Long John Silver's started working on another seafood salad idea to join the menu. Long John Silver's parent company at the time was Jericco Inc., which also owned the Italian-based restaurant Florenz, and decided to borrow one of its menu items for its own. Anthony Seta, certified master chef and director of product development and research at Jerrico Inc. told the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1987, "The pasta salad works so well in the Italian concept — why wouldn't it work In our seafood shop?"

It took Long John Silver's 9 months to develop its own Seafood Pasta Salad, settling on rotini as its noodle, with an oil and vinegar based dressing. It started being advertised in May of 1987, and was last seen in print ads by the end of that September. It's hard to be exactly sure how long it hung around in stores, but it's possible it spent more time in development than it did on menus.

Hawaiian Chicken Salad / Chef's Combo Salad

Long John Silver's Hawaiian Chicken Salad
Long John Silver's Hawaiian Chicken Salad - Long John Silver

In 1988, Long John Silver's delved deeper into its line of salads by debuting two new ones — the Hawaiian Chicken Salad and the Chef's Combo Salad. The Hawaiian Chicken Salad was topped with pineapple, almonds and raisins. The Chef's Combo, which should not be confused with the Ocean Chef Salad that debuted three years earlier, lived up to its name combining the talents of seafood selections, chicken, and cheddar cheese.

Long John Silver's really believed in its new duo of salads, as the chain made a lot of guarantees in a print ad: Freshly prepared, great-tasting, savings with the salad coupons, and most importantly, delicious or your money back. It sounded like a no-lose proposition for customers, especially with the salads starting at just $2.99. The one thing Long John Silver's could not guarantee was these two product's longevity, as wouldn't be long until they were never heard of again.

Mexican Seafood Salad

Long John Silver's Mexican Seafood Salad
Long John Silver's Mexican Seafood Salad - Long John Silver

In 1988, Long John Silver's threw a fiesta with perhaps its first foray into a Mexican-inspired dish. Having offered a variety of salads for a few years, it branched out with a Mexican Seafood Salad that retailed for $2.99.

The limited time offering featured tender pieces of chicken, seafood, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, salsa, and a one-ounce side of tortilla chips. That added up to 340 calories, 15 grams of fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, and a whopping 1,154 milligrams of sodium. Its low price and calories count helped land it on The Atlanta Constitution's "Under $5, 500 Calories" list in 1990.

The TV ads played up its Mexican roots by featuring a mariachi band, who scream "arriba" at the news of the item's launch. A year later, salsa would make a reappearance, of sorts, on Long John Silver's menu as the "Spicy Taco" dipping sauce accompanying the Fish 'n' Dips limited time item.

Homestyle Fish

Long John Silver's Homestyle Fish
Long John Silver's Homestyle Fish - Long John Silver

In an effort to make eating out have more of a touch of home, Long John Silver's introduced Homestyle Fish to its line-up in March of 1989, just in time to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary. This product featured Alaskan whitefish filets lightly seasoned and then rolled in breadcrumbs. A single piece of Homestyle Fish netted 125 calories, 7 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, and 20 milligrams of cholesterol.

Long John Silver's pulled out all the stops to try and to entice customers to try this new menu item. There was a TV ad that starred Dallas Cowboys All-Pro lineman Randy White and his price conscious mother Laverne. While the 4-piece platter ran for $3.99, the chain once had an offer that diners couldn't refuse — for a single dollar more, customers could have all they could eat of Homestyle Fish. Seems the deal didn't hurt the company too much, as it was paying only $1.05 a pound for the Alaskan whitefish, versus $1.80 for the standard cod they also sell. Within a month, stores saw a 5-6% uptick in customers, and Homestyle Fish made itself right at home on John Silver's menu until at least the end of 1992.

Fish 'N' Dips

Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Dips
Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Dips - Long John Silver

While the name Fish 'n' Dips sounds like a sea-worthy cross between fish & chips and Long John Silver's chicken nuggets, this offering was essentially just standard Homestyle fish filets with a choice of side sauces. This limited time offer was launched in 1989, with an ad campaign featuring a father and his overly excited grown-up son dressed as a pirate eager to try this new offering.

While the fish wasn't new, the deal was a generous one. Costing from $2.49 to $2.99, four filets came with every order, together with a portion of fries, coleslaw, a pair of hushpuppies, and a single dip. Three of the available dips were also familiar holdovers from Long John Silver's Chicken Nuggets: Barbecue, sweet 'n sour, and honey mustard. A fourth dipping sauce was the new spicy taco, a throwback to the Mexican seafood salad and two words not commonly found within the doors of Long John Silver's.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.