April 06, 2006

Death of my fish

I'm feeling very upset and disheartened right now because I just learned that my favorite frozen fish, President's Choice English-Style Fish & Chips has been discontinued!!! This is my very favorite frozen fish meal (not, uh, fishmeal) and I cannot believe it is no longer available for my consumption.

I first noticed that something was amiss about 2 months ago at my local grocery chain. I didn't see the beautiful black box in its righteous place in the freezer, but figured it just needed to be restocked.

After about a month of waiting and looking and waiting and looking and waiting and looking, I was moved to do something about it. That something was calling my mom to ask what steps I should take. (Because I am that much of a wuss that sometimes I don't want to make waves with the people who stock the food. Suppose they hate me and then find out what other foods I like and purposely don't order them, you know? It could happen. Ok, not really.)

I went to the customer service desk and had the following conversation with some woman whose name I didn't get because her nametag was sort of clipped off to the side of her chest and I didn't want to be looking there and it wasn't that important anyway, I mean, I was there for the fish, and only the fish.

Me: Hi, I have an inquiry about a product that I'd-

Lady: What kind of product?

Me: Frozen fish. Who would I-

Lady: Go all the way to the back of the store, to the right, where the meat counter is.

Me: The meat people stock the frozen fish?

Lady: Yes, just go straight back to the store, all the way to the right.

Me: Ok, thank you.

When I got to the meat counter, the guy was busy helping some annoying customers. I call them annoying because they were standing between me and the meat guy and thereby prolonging my quest for fish information.

Finally it was my turn. I asked the meat guy about the President's Choice English-Style Fish & Chips. He seemed surprised that there wasn't any in stock, but offered to help me look.

We went over to the frozen fish freezer.

I stood there as he rifled through the freezer, explaining that "sometimes products get shoved behind other products, so there could actually be some here." But after minutes of looking behind President's Choice Seafood Lasagna (ugh), President's Choice Vegetable Lasagna (why is this in the fish freezer?), President's Choice Tuna Burgers, President's Choice Salmon Fillets, and President's Choice Macaroni and Cheese, he said, "Well, I guess we don't have any. Huh."

"Do you think you'll order any of it soon? When will it arrive?"

"It must be on order. It should be in soon."

Not exactly the most specific answer, but what can you do.

Another two weeks passed with more waiting and looking. Finally one Friday night, my impatience caused me to seek out the President's Choice website and do a little fish product research.

When I couldn't locate said product on the website, I figured I might be in some trouble, but, as a webmaster myself, I realize that websites are sometimes imperfect. So I checked the FAQ section to see if there was news about my product.
Then I did another search. Then finally I decided to go the last resort route and e-mail the customer service folks.

Here is what I put on the form:

Product Name: English Style Fish & Chips
Subject: Inquiry

Could you please tell me if the English-Style Fish & Chips product has been discontinued? I inquired at my grocery when I didn't see it in the freezer, and they seemed surprised, and mentioned that they might need to order it. In looking at your website, though, I didn't see the product listed, nor did it show up when I did a search. Please let me know..and if it is discontinued, are there plans to bring it back? This is the best frozen fish product I've ever had, and I've loved it for years.

Thank you!
concerned consumer in (city).


The President's Choice people are nothing if not prompt; in less than a week, I received a reply:

Dear H.;

It is a pleasure to hear from an admirer of our President’s Choice English-Style Fish and Chips.

This product has been discontinued due to supplier issues that could not be resolved and is no longer available in the U.S.

We currently sell other selected President’s Choice items in the U.S. at the following supermarkets.

Contact Phone Number in xxxxx is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

We are unable to ship products to individuals in the U.S. because of legislation passed January 2004 by the United States Food and Drug Administration regulating the importing of food products into the U.S. This legislation requires additional documents to be completed by a broker, which would add a significant surcharge to each individual order.

H, we appreciate hearing from you and hope that you will continue to enjoy President’s Choice products.


It's a nice message, even if the last statement is somewhat illogical...I mean, how can I enjoy their products when the one I really want is freaking ILLEGAL to get in this country???* Damn the FDA!!! Sure, Nutrasweet, Aspartame, whatever, that's fine, put that shite on the market. But some imported frozen fish from our Canadian friends??? Whatever.

Anyway, at least I still have an old (almost empty) box of it in my freezer to look at on occasion. Then again, that might just cause me more pain.

Sigh. :(

*Okay, not exactly illegal, but laws and regulations??? Come on!


Anonymous Mel said...

Sigh. I feel for you.

I've had similar problems with Morning Star Farms black bean burgers. I can't find them ANYWHERE. Because I fear the worst and don't know if I can take the disappointment, I haven't had the courage to go to the Morning Star Farms website yet.

Perhaps your courage shall inspire me . . . .

I am sorry for your loss.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous donutbabe said...

Okay, not to gloat on your day of sadness, but I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to check the Morningstar Farms website. There's a store locator on there that tells which stores carry which particular products. If the info on there is correct, I have only to go to the downtown Kroger (wherever that may be -- I'll ask your bro for directions) to find my spicy black bean burgers! Yippeeeee!

Still, I'm dipping my pinky in my celebratory wineglass; my joy is diminished because of your fish.

9:55 PM  
Blogger h. said...

Gosh, I kind of feel like some kind of crusader (only not really) but I'm glad to know at least one of our causes was not lost. Seriously man, I am glad you will again enjoy the bbb's. :)

Now then, do you think that I could start some kind of letter writing campaign to our congresspeeps to help bring back my fish? Or should I first deal with the President's Choice folks to see if they can find a new supplier? Or..should I just realize that this ship has sailed, and say goodbye for good. Frozen fish activists unite!!

9:43 AM  
Anonymous positively4thst said...

Dear Concerned Consumer,

Well, to be honest I know only one fish sandwich joke and what’s worse, it’s a Steven Wright joke so it probably won’t even cheer you up. But here goes: “I'm eating at a seafood restaurant in Seaworld. I'm halfway through my fish burger when I realize, “Oh my God -- I could be eating a slow learner.”

No, wait, wait – I’ve got something else, a nice bit of interior monologue from my favorite fake radio detective drama of yesteryear. Ready? Go: “I thought there was something fishy about the butler. Probably a Pisces, working for scale.”

Ha! Not bad for the 1960s you have to admit. It’s from “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye," www.firesigntheatre.com (All Hail Marx and Lennon).

But back to Steven Wright, and this has nothing to do with fish, but my favorite Steven Wright joke goes, “Well, you know how when you're sitting on a chair and you lean back so you're just on two legs then you lean too far and you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel that way all the time.”


Sympathetic Reader in (Stupid Suburb)

8:36 PM  
Blogger h. said...

Dear Sympathetic Reader,

Thank you for your kind words. And for reminding me that Steven Wright exists. I think my fave joke of his might be the one where he says he has a map of the world, drawn to scale, in his back pocket. Or something like that.

I really want some fish. Salty malty goodness.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Wonka said...

Now that I am living in Montreal, Canada I feel that I must check the local Provigo for "President's Choice." I saw this brand on the shelves and thought "this sounds familiar." Fish ahoy, perhaps.

10:26 PM  
Blogger h. said...

DAMMIT! I had posted a great reply but it did not take!! DAMMIT DAMN BLOGGER!

Anyhoo I think I said something like this:

OMG! I totally did not make the connection that your move to Canuck Country might enable you to get my beloved fish. Please alert me posthaste if you should happen to see the English-Style Fish'n'Chips (an empty of box of which still sits, sadly, on the floor of my freezer). I will have to make travel plans, you know.

11:49 AM  

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