Will A Name Change Make This Invasive Fish Species More Appetizing?

Asian carp was renamed into "copi" and we wonder whether or not that's more appealing.

People say names are important—I'd personally say "Dennis" is the most important of them all. Illinois has an invasive fish problem in the form of Asian carp, which make up around 70% of the biomass in the Illinois River (holy shit!), according to Axios. The carp is perfectly edible and is eaten all over the world, though it isn't particularly big in the United States, so Illinois took it upon itself to rename the thing in order to drum up more culinary appeal. Eating the fish, ideally, would put a dent in its ubiquity. The carp are ravenous feeders, which in turn leaves less food for indigenous fauna, thereby messing with the local ecosystem. Its new name? "Copi."

Copi is wordplay on the term "copious," which... sounds kind of silly to me. PBS reports that the name came from a communications company, Span. But the name might be more appealing on menus, and honestly, the fish sounds pretty delicious, if you ask me.

Chef Brian Jupiter is co-owner and executive chef of Ina Mae Tavern as well as Frontier here in Chicago. He says, on the rebranded fish's website Choose Copi, "Copi is more savory than tilapia, cleaner tasting than catfish, and firmer than cod, it's the perfect canvas for creativity—pan fried, steamed, broiled, baked, roasted or grilled."

Foods that have benefitted from a rebrand

When it comes to marketing food, names are pretty important. Remember when prunes were renamed to "dried plums?" Seafood in particular has benefited from some name changes.

One example is orange roughy. The fish is tasty in its own right, but another name for it is "slimehead," due to the fact that it has mucus-producing canals in its head. (Mucushead would have been good too). The seafood industry, says The Smithsonian, eventually renamed it to a more appealing "orange roughy," and the fish has graced our plates ever since, though now they're considered overfished. Maybe the name change worked too well.


Other examples include patagonian toothfish, which is now Chilean sea bass, and red snapper, which used to be called yelloweye rockfish. And fun fact, in Maine, sea urchins used to be known colloquially as "whore's eggs," reports the New York Times (who's bright idea was that?).

So now, back to the matter at hand. Would the name change to copi really get me excited about it on a menu? I'm not so sure, since I already know what it is; I'd happily eat it anyway. But when it comes down to it, we probably could use some more fish in our diet, and this is a good reminder that some of it has been right in front of us this whole time. It's a bonus that we can help the environment simply by eating some dinner.