Mrs. Paul - The fictional matriarch of the Mrs. Paul's seafood
firm whose name is used to advertise their products although she is never seen.
The company was founded in 1946 by Chicago born Polish entrepreneur Edward J. Piszek (1916-2004) who first sold deviled crab cakes then expanded the brand
line to other seafood items like fried fish sticks (introduced in 1952) and
crispy battered fish fillets.
The idea for his company happened by chance in 1946 when Piszek made too many
crab cakes during his shift at a food concession stand at a Kensington,
Philadelphia bar and decided to freeze some. Venturing into business, Piszek
used $450 of his money, and another $450 from his partner John Paul, a Bond
Bread salesman to launch Mrs. Paul's Kitchens Inc. John Paul (who gave the
company its name) later sold his shares of the business to Piszek in the 1950s
In his autobiography Some Good in the World (2001) Piszek recalled that he used
his wife (Oddie) as a shill to sell his products to potential customers. Once,
while making his pitch to a store manager, Oddie approached as Mrs. Average
Housewife and excitedly began extolling the virtues of Mrs. Paul's products.
Over time, Piszek earned the nickname "The Big Fishcake." He enjoyed the moniker
and once told a reporter he didn't mind being called "the Big Fishcake because
of the fact it's true."
Currently, the Mrs. Paul's Company is owned by Pinnacle Foods Group (formerly
Aurora Foods) who bought the company from Campbell's in 1996 (who had bought it
from Piszek in 1982).
According to their latest marketing blurb "Mrs. Paul's® has the expertise to
make great tasting, well-prepared seafood. She only uses whole fillets, never
minced pieces, quality ingredients, and special recipes to create a variety of
delicious seafood meals the entire family will enjoy." One of Mrs. Paul's
advertising jingles proclaims "If it's not Mrs. Paul's, throw it back" Note:
Pinnacle Foods Group also owns the Van de Kamp's seafood brands.
Fish and Girl in Playground
In an effort to energize interest in their
product, the Pinnacle Foods Group hired Foot, Cone & Belding, a New York based
ad agency to create a "fish out of water" campaign that featured an oversized
fish (a four-foot-long puppet) who pops up on dry land in unlikely situations
and introduces itself to a variety of people. The fish puppet used in the
commercials is a combination of a large mouth bass and red fish operated by
cables and wires.
In the first spot ("Swing Set"), the fish appears on a playground and offers fin
to a little girl. In the second spot ("Racquetball") the fish is found in a
athletic club amidst a bunch of sweating yuppies playing racquetball.
During these 30 second ad spots, the announcer asks "Uncomfortable with fish?"
then suggests that we get comfortable with fish by trying the sponsors seafood
products ("Try Mrs. Paul's fish sticks, always made from whole filets.") The
spot concludes with the end tag: "Mrs. Paul's. Get comfortable with fish."
According to ad agency spokesman, Mr. Cuesta," Putting the fish into places
where it shouldn't be, where it maybe would make people uncomfortable, is humor
that hits the truth." The spots were directed by the Perlorian Brothers.
Yummm! Microwavable Grilled Fillet
TRIVIA NOTE: Occasionally, Mrs. Paul's has
been the target of a pop culture joke or two. As an example, on the April 29,
1993 installment of the LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, the Top Ten List of the
Day was "Top 10 Things Overheard During Take Your Daughter To Work Day" Number 8
on the list read: "Mrs. Paul, your daughter just saw the secret fish-stick
recipe. Now she must die!"
On an earlier May 10, 1990 show, Mrs. Paul was the focus of that entire night's
Top Ten list called "Mrs. Paul's Top 10 Pet Peeves."
||When a 3-pronged tuna hook
gets caught in your shoulder blade while you're casting.
||When some joker at the plant batter-dips your car keys.
||The kids aren't buying her action figure.
||Getting bread crumbs in a paper cut.
||Idiots who think she's married to the Pope.
||That bitch Betty Crocker.
|| Lawsuits filed by accidentally de-boned employees.
||The flat accusing stare of a dying cod.
||Wise guys who give you a "Here's your fish stick, lady."
||Lackluster sales of her new cologne "Bottom-Feeder."
On NBC's LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN, guest Jimmy Fallon participated in an
ongoing skit called "In the Year 2000." One of his predictions stated:
"President Bush will admit that at the funeral of Pope John Paul II he mistook a
nun for the pope's wife, called her Mrs. Paul, and told her how much he loved
her frozen fish sticks."
And finally, at Abbey Fields, a Beatles fan site listed "The Top 15 Things
Overheard at the Knighthood Ceremony of Paul McCartney" Number 12 read:
"We had intended to knight Mrs. Paul for her work in delicious fish sticks, but
I suppose you will do."