Of the many strange food trends and fads that social media has given birth to, TikTok's ‘tin fish date night’ may be one of the most unexpected. It is exactly what it sounds like: TikTok videos that showcase how tinned fish can play a core part in a date night with your better half. The most-watched video has 4.5 million views.
Thanks to TikTok, US sales of tinned fish grew by nearly 10% to $2.7 billion in 2022, and the TikTok trend is still going strong. There's now some concern regarding whether canneries will be able to keep up with the demand.
The idea originated from TikTok user Ali Hooke (@alihooke), a San Fransisco-based chef and content creator who started sharing inspirational content revolving around tinned fish in July 2022. Hooke showed how tinned fish can replace the cured meat often found on charcuterie boards, something that many would describe as an ideal date night food. The idea was sparked by having to find something quick and convenient that Hooke and her husband could sit down and enjoy together during the very limited time that their new-born son would sleep in the evenings.
Ali Hooke’s tinned fish date night content now includes 51 videos; the most watched video has 4.5 million views and 2.2 million likes. There are 44.6 million posts with the hashtag #tinfishdatenight today and the more general hashtag #tinnedfish has 84.3 million posts.
Avid fans of the concept, who tend to be young women, now consider themselves as belonging to the “Tin Tok” community and some producers of tinned fish now offer special “tinned fish date night boxes” in their online stores.
The US tinned fish category has been given a new lease of life thanks to TikTok, making its way into peoples’ feeds as something that is convenient, nutritious and versatile but also affordable. As is often the case in social media, consumers are also attracted by the visual aspect, with the tinned fish often sold in bright and colourful packaging with an artisanal feel. Popular recipe ideas include the charcuterie board idea from Ali Hooke, but consumers also use tinned fish in pasta sauces, as sandwich topping or simply as a snack straight out of the tin.
Examples of TikTok posts using the hashtag #tinnedfish