PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The first octopus was thrown onto the ice in Detroit in 1952.
Eight legs symbolized the eight wins needed to win a Stanley Cup in those days. But the origin of Nashville’s custom of tossing catfish has been a mystery, until now.
Unless you’ve been living under a glacier, you’ve heard of the “Nashville cat” who tossed a catfish onto the ice at a Penguins game at PPG Paints Arena. He’s a hero in Nashville. In Pittsburgh, not so much.
“I think it’s nasty,” a Strip District shopper said.
“I think it’s disgusting,” said another. “There’s hungry people in the world, and they’re wasting fish.”
“I’ve looked it up,” added a woman from Crosby, Texas, of all places. “I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to figure out how the whole octopus-catfish thing came from, and nobody has an answer.”
We do now. The origin of that slithery tradition has remained a secret for nearly 20 years, but at last, the truth is out. A former Nashville bar owner, now living in Minnesota, says he was the very first to catapult a catfish onto the ice.
“We was sitting at Wolfie’s,” Bob Wolf recalls, “and after we had come up with the idea of what we were going to throw, the catfish, the next idea was how we’re going to get a catfish.”
They found a market where they bought several catfish, and, he continued, “Obviously the season was going to go on, and people were starting to throw them.”
Playoff success has revived the slimy custom. Would Pittsburgh ever do something like that?
“If we threw pierogies on the ice, I don’t think anyone would get that either,” another Strip District visitor answered.
A local merchant points out one fact that Predator fans seem to be missing.
“Penguins eat fishes, right?”
Yes, they do.