From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Scrod or schrod (/ˈskrɒd/) is any of various whitefish, such as young cod or haddock, that are prepared and eaten as food; often the preparation involves the whitefish being split and boned before cooking. Historically, scrod was a feature on menus associated with elegant New England dining; young cod are the mainstay on modern menus presenting the fish, and it is a staple in many coastal New England and Atlantic Canadian seafood and fish markets, and at many restaurants. The term "scrod" may derive from the Dutch schrod, implying cutting or shredding, or from Cornish scrawed, where it connotes splitting and drying of the fish (though a variety of apocryphal acronyms and origins have been suggested for the term). A method of preparation of scrod that appears historically, as early as the 19th century, is scrawing, which involves a drying step before the fish are broiled or otherwise cooked.

Definition and biology[edit]

Scrod (variant, schrod) refers to young cod, haddock, or other whitefish that are prepared and eaten as food, often after preparation that involves splitting and boning the fish.[1] Weights of scrod are typically less than 3 lb (1.4 kg).[2]


Formal origins[edit]

First known to have appeared in 1841, the word refers to the preparation of fish in the manner described, per the Oxford English Dictionary, with "possible" relations to the Dutch schrod (Middle Dutch schrode piece cut off, Old English scréade shred),[2] where, if this ascription is valid, "the notion is probably of fish cut into pieces for drying or cooking."[3] A variant escrod, a word used in a publication by Daniel Webster, is referred to by the same source as "difficult to explain."[4] Alternatively, its origin "probably [derives] from British dialect (Cornwall) scrawed, past participle of scraw, scrawl to split, salt, and lightly dry."[1]

Popular perceptions[edit]

The term has been credited to chefs at Boston’s Parker House Hotel, the originator of Boston cream pie and Parker House rolls,[5] and a number of further apocryphal folk etymologies have appeared.[6]

Origin of "scrod" in shorthands or acronyms has also been proffered, including to mean "Sacred Cod," in reference to "the Atlantic cod carved from pine that hangs in the Boston State House."[7] Scrod has been suggested to be an acronym for "seaman’s catch received on deck,"[7] an association reported to be popular in New England, and implying that whatever whitefish had been caught that day would be used for in the day's scrod;[citation needed] alternatively, it has been suggested as an acronym for "small cod remaining on dock" or "select catch retrieved on [the] day."[citation needed][8] Yankee Magazine has reported the use of "scrod" as the last of these acronyms, and that it was used on daily menus to refer to the fish of the day, since menus were made up before the day's catch was brought in;[verification needed] scrod was often cod in those days,[when?] and scrod became associated with young cod in particular.[citation needed]


Reliable definitions include cooking of scrod by frying or broiling, after splitting; in February 1949, the Chicago Tribune (25 Feb., § ii, pp. 4, 6) describes scrod as "simply a tail piece of filleted haddock or cod dipped in oil, then bread crumbs and broiled in a moderate oven," and states it is served in this way in "famous Boston restaurants."[2]

Scrod appears in a cookbook published in 1851 in reference to cooking a young cod or the split tail of a large cod after preparation by scrawing.[9][better source needed] In scrawing, fish are split open, dried in the sun or salted overnight (to remove moisture), then broiled.

"Boston scrod" is listed as a featured item of the buffet for the Boston-New York run of the New Haven Railroad in the early 20th century, alongside Cotuit oysters, and Krug champagne.[7]

As of the early years of the new millennium, scrod continues as a staple in many coastal New England seafood and fish markets and restaurants and in the United States,[citation needed] and in Atlantic Canadian areas as well.[citation needed] Most typically, young cod is the mainstay on modern menus presenting scrod.[citation needed]

In literature and history[edit]

Seth Peterson, a boatman, fisherman, and friend Daniel Webster, described the 19th century orator and statesman (per biographer George Curtis) as having greatly enjoyed scrawed cod:

He loved codfish best—he liked to have them scrawed—to have them split open, corned a little over night, and broiled for breakfast. I've fixed him more than a thousand.

— S. Peterson[10]

American humorist poet Ogden Nash voiced that "I lunch and sup on schrod and soup" in his 1949 collection, Versus (p. 54).[2]

When spoken, "scrod" is a homophone for "screwed," slang for sexual intercourse, and thus is the basis for many jokes, the simplest of which is, "I got scrod in Boston."[11]


  1. ^ a b Merriam-Webster, 2014, "scrod noun", entry at "Merrian Webster Dictionary (online)," see [1], accessed 22 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), 2014, "scrod U.S. (skrɒd) Also scrode, schrod", entry at "OED (online)," see [2], accessed 22 January 2014.
  3. ^ Douglas Harper, 2014, "scrod (n.)", entry at "Online Etymology Dictionary," see [3], accessed 22 January 2014.
  4. ^ The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), 2014, "escrod (ɛˈskrɒd)", entry at "OED (online)," see [4], accessed 22 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Omni Parker House Hotel founded in 1855. - iBoston". Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  6. ^ "Yankee Magazine". Retrieved 08.12.2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ a b c Jeri Quinzio, 2014, "Food on the Rails: The Golden Era of Railroad Dining," Rowman & Littlefield, p. 112, see [5], accessed 22 January 2014.
  8. ^ It has been suggested[by whom?] that these are likely backronyms.[citation needed]
  9. ^ Anon., 2014, "Origin Of Scrod," at Celebrate Boston, see [6], accessed 22 January 2014.[better source needed]
  10. ^ George Ticknor Curtis, 1872, Life of Daniel Webster, Vol. II, 4th ed., New York: D. Appleton and Co., p. 663 and 664 (footnote), see [7], accessed 22 January 2015.
  11. ^ Harris, Patricia (2007). 1001 Greatest Things Ever Said About Massachusetts. Lyons Press. p. 245. ISBN 1599210967. 

External links[edit]

  • David L. Gold, 2009, Whence American English Scrod and Grimsby English Scrob', in "Studies in Etymology and Etiology: With Emphasis on Germanic, Jewish, Romance and Slavic Languages," Alicante, Spain:Universidad de Alicante, pp. 555–558, see [8], accessed 22 January 2014.
  • Melanie Crowley and Mike Crowley, 2014, Query "From Cosmo Cavicchio [The word scrod means… Can you verify that?]," in Words to the Wise: Your Etymologic Queried Answered, Take our Word For It, Issue 128, p. 2, see [9], accessed 22 January 2014.
  • Anon., 2014, "Origin Of Scrod," at Celebrate Boston, see [10], accessed 22 January 2014.