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Love fish? Love Seattle? Then you gotta check out Pike Place Market, a mecca for seafood lovers and tourists alike. As a place that’s special in the heart of many locals, Pike Place Market is an open-air shop that sells products from a variety of vendors, including fish, produce, flowers, and more. Nestled nicely at the corner of Pike Place and Pike Street, Pike Place Market is a world-famous destination for tourists, drawing thousands of visitors each day. But it’s not just the quality fish that draws customers, it’s the iconic Pikes Place fish toss as well.

Fish Tossing at Pike Place Market

A tradition started by a gentleman named John Yokoyama, former owner of PPM, fish tossing at Pike Place Market occurs on the daily and attracts large crowds of entertained customers. Almost an art, fish tossing is the act of the fishmongers throwing the fish from the ice-packed displays in the front, to the workers in the back – so that they can scale, prepare, and wrap the fish without having to waste unnecessary steps walking to the back. 

And for those wanting to catch a glimpse of the famous Pike Place Market fish toss, don’t worry, it happens very often. Every time a fish is ordered, it’s flung across the shopping area to the back. Employees are usually yelling and chanting the orders back and forth with each other, too, creating a hilarious, fun atmosphere. It’s a spectacle to witness for sure – seeing all types of fish flying around is more entertaining that it should be. Sometimes, they’ll even let the audience get on the action, giving them the sacred opportunity to play catch.

They also have practice fish of lesser quality that they use to throw around for fun sometimes. At the end of the day, though, it’s donated away to a zoo or wildlife refuges. For someone wanting to get in and get out of Pike Place, you shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. But if you wanted to take your time, stop by all vendors, and truly enjoy the fish-throwing performances (and maybe even join in on the hooting and hollering), you may find yourself spending quite a bit of time here.

As a tradition that’s been going on for decades, fish tossing at Pike Place Market started when Yokoyama began tracing his steps to see how long it would take to carry the fish from the front to the back. He found that it took approximately 100 steps – 100 steps more than necessary – to complete the transferral of the fish. So, he thought of a better plan, an action he performed out on a whim one day. Throwing the fish to the back. And not only was it efficient, but customers loved it!

Some customers are impressed with the catch, but according to the employees, the real skill lies within the throw. The learning curve to this game of catch and throw is pretty steep, too, for it can take a while for an employee to really get the hang of it. Apparently, there isn’t really any additional practice behind the scenes, so when employees begin work, they’re kinda just thrown in there with the expectation to catch on. Which can make for a difficult, but fun, time for new hires. 

But there’s a secret to the throw. Since one end (the head) is heavier than the other (the tail), it’s very easy to let the fish spiral in the air. However, that’s not ideal. Instead, you’ll want to make sure to cradle the fish, kind of like a baby or a football, and then toss it flat through the air so there is only minimal movement. Not too hard, huh? 

Pikes Place: Something for Everyone

But again, it’s not just the tossing that’s so popular – it’s the seafood. Pike Place Market offers a ton of great, sustainable seafood, most of which are locally-sourced in Alaskan waters. If you’re not into the fish scene, there are other things offered here, too. The shops at PMM range, with vendors selling flowers, produce, art, and more. There’s honestly something here for everyone. Still, regardless of what you’re looking for, the Pikes Place fish toss is everyone should check out.

And while you’re at Pikes Place, visit Pure Food Fish Market. Home to the world’s best tasting fresh seafood, Pure Food Fish Market sells a variety of Fresh Pacific Northwest Fish including Fresh Alaskan King Salmon, Fresh Alaskan Halibut, Fresh Dungeness and Alaskan King Crab, and much much more! And if you don’t live in the Seattle area, don’t worry – you can order our seafood online! With overnight shipping available everywhere in the United States, our selection is a must for any seafood lovers wanting to have fresh seafood delivered straight to their door. Order from us today!

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