Chicago, IL

Does Copi sound tastier to you than Asian carp?

Jennifer Geer

Would you eat an Asian carp for dinner if it had a more appetizing name?

(CHICAGO) The invasive Asian carp has a bit of an image problem. When you hear the word "carp," the first thing you think of is probably not a delectable and healthy fish dinner.

But the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) hopes that could change with a rebranding of the invasive fish's reputation from that of a dirty bottom feeder to a healthy and tasty fish dinner.

The Asian carp's new name was just announced as Copi.

The IDNR said in a tweet, "When you eat Copi, you’re part of a smart, sustainable solution. Choose Copi. Eat well, do good."

Why a new name for the carp?

John Rogner, the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources explained to WTTW-TV Chicago, “We’re trying to make the name more attractive, so people will be more inclined to purchase them and have them for table fare, have them for dinner."

Asian carp are common in the Illinois River. But it's been a battle to keep them out of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

As the carp continue to threaten Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, the IDNR has been trying to come up with ways to control the population.

At least it's not a slimehead

Renaming a fish to something more palatable is not a new thing. The popular fish, Orange Roughy, used to be called a Pacific Slimehead, Chilean Sea Bass was known as the Patagonian Toothfish, and lobsters were known as mudbugs.

Asian carp burgers didn't take off

In 2020, officials launched the "Asian Carp Challenge," which included passing out free Asian carp burgers and tacos across Illinois. However, this attempt didn't result in Chicagoans and Illinois residents embracing the Asian carp as a go-to meal.

Officials have been trying to get people to change their minds about eating Asian carp for years. I found a Block Club Chicago article posted on Twitter about a BYOB grilled dinner featuring Asian carp in the city in 2016. And another article from Huffpost from 2014 which encouraged people to eat Asian carp.

Despite these efforts, Asian carp have neither become a popular restaurant item nor sold in grocery stores and cooked at home. Perhaps, like the former slimeheads, a name change can do the trick.

What you may not know about the Asian carp (Copi)

Carp have a reputation of being dirty, bottom feeders. A fish not many people are excited to eat. But, Asian carp are different than other carp.

They don't bottom-feed but eat plankton. Lots of plankton. An Asian carp will eat 5 to 10% of its body weight (which can be 100lb) in plankton per day.

Dirk Fucik of Dirk’s Fish and Gourmet Shop, told WTTW-TV Chicago that the Asian carp is "healthier than tilapia. Tilapia is omega-6 instead of omega-3, so you get a lot less benefits of health from tilapia."

Asian carp have the most omega-3 fatty acids per gram among freshwater fish, similar to the content of salmon.

Will you try an Asian carp by any other name?

We'll have to wait and see if the rebranding plan is successful. Copi does have a different ring to it than Asian carp, but whether it will take off as successfully as renaming Orange Roughy did, remains to be seen.

What do you think of the name, Copi? Does it sound tastier to you than "carp"?


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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