Singing Fish Find New Life at Texas Restaurants

“Don’t worry, be happy now.”

By Ethan L. Johns
September 20, 2017

Image: Kevin Burkett/flickr

Whether encountered by surprise activation of the motion sensor, or by the button being pressed over and over again by small, amused children, odds are that the Big Mouth Billy Bass has annoyed either you or somebody very close to you. Perhaps it annoyed you so much that you threw it in the trash, or maybe even straight out the window. One Texas restaurant chain (with a sense of humor) has made the mounted, plastic singing fish the hallmark of their nine locations and will offer up a reward to anybody who donates one.

Flying Fish, a “fast-casual” format chain with locations in Texas as well as in Arkansas and Tennessee, claims to be the “home of the world’s first Billy Bass Adoption Wall,” where customers can bring their no-longer-wanted (or covertly-stolen-from-the-husband) Big Mouth Billy Bass and get a free basket of catfish in return. Donors need not fear for their toy’s safety: Flying Fish promises “to house, shelter, love and protect each adopted Billy Bass.”

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The Big Mouth Billy Bass was first introduced in sporting goods stores in 2000, and was immediately a sold-out success. The motion-detecting animatronic fish, which is mounted on plaque, has attained legendary status for the way in which it moves to face unsuspecting passersby, opening and closing its mouth as it sings Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” or Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.”

Anybody who has ever been around one knows that the singing fish gets old very fast, so one could imagine that a restaurant full of them would too. Good thing they remove all the batteries.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns