Asian carp’s new, and hopefully more appetizing, name is revealed
“Copi” is a play on the word “copious” — as in “there are copious amounts of Asian carp in the Illinois River that are not supposed to be there. Help us. Please eat them.”
The new name for Asian carp is ...Copi.
The name is a play on the word “copious” — which is what the invasive fish are in the Illinois River and surrounding waterways south to the Gulf Coast.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources held a “Big Reveal” of the new name Wednesday by airing a video online — the culmination of a two-year rebranding campaign that seeks to make the fish more appealing to consumers.
The goal is to shed the negative image of a muddy-tasting bottom-feeder and inject the truth — they’re top-feeding plankton eaters that taste quite good.
Chef Brian Jupiter, who will serve Copi at his restaurant, Ina Mae Tavern in Wicker Park, made the announcement alongside Steve Dolinsky, a longtime food and restaurant reporter.
“I love this name becauseit’s fun and light, which is exactly how this fish tastes,” Jupiter said. “It’s also short and easy to say and it combines well with names of dishes: Copi burgers, Copi sliders, Copi fajitas, Copi tacos. Much better than Asian carp tacos, right?”
And anyone eating Copi was encouraged to post a photo to social media using #ChooseCopi.
State officials hope the rebrand will lead to more people eating the fish, which would lead more commercial fishing operations to pull them from the Illinois River and, ultimately, decrease their numbers and the risk that Asian carp could eventually make their way into the Great Lakes.
The fish are voracious eaters and could jeopardize the ecosystem of the Great Lakes by eating too much plankton, the basis of a food chain for many other creatures.
“Copi is a great name: Short, crisp and easy to say. What diner won’t be intrigued when they read Copi tacos or Copi burgers on a menu?” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan said in a news release. “It’s a tasty fish that’s easy to work with in the kitchen and it plates beautifully. Every time we’ve offered samples during the Illinois State Fair, people have walked away floored by how delicious it is.”
State officials also hope the newly created tagline of “Eat well. Do good.” will create a lasting association akin to “Milk does a body good” or “Pork. The other white meat.”
“Enjoying Copi in a restaurant or at home is one of the easiest things people can do to help protect our waterways and Lake Michigan,” said John Goss, former White House invasive carp adviser. “As home to the largest continuous link between Lake Michigan and the Copi-filled Mississippi River system, Illinois has a unique responsibility in the battle to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. I’m proud of Illinois, its partners and other states for rising to this challenge.”
The state hired a design team to come up with the new name.
Hundreds of people looked at and reviewed the name and designs and “this one was like infinitely well responded to, leaps and bounds over the other names,” said Nick Adam, a principal with Span Studio.
Adam, working for a different firm at the time, also helped come up with the name “Divvy” for the city’s bike-share program.
The effort is backed by $600,000 in federal funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the initial rebrand and to get the name into the minds of the public over three or four years of marketing.
“You can have a great launch but that’s just the start of the race,” said Kevin Irons, assistant chief of fisheries for the IDNR. “But at some point, we want to sort of get out of the way and hand it over to the industry.”
Illinois officials will apply to formally change the name with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of the year.
One requirement for changing the name is widespread use of the new name.