The roots of Gorton’s of Gloucester go back to 1849. John Pew & Sons was the first fish packing company in the city. Slade Gorton & Co. started packing salt-dried fish in barrels in 1868. Slade was the first to advertise his product—“Absolutely Boneless Codfish”—nationally.

Gorton, John Pew, and two other firms merged in 1906 into Gorton-Pew Fisheries, becoming owners of the largest fishing fleet on the East Coast. By the 1950s, its frozen fish sticks in boxes with the distinctive man at the wheel reigned.

In 1923, Gorton-Pew had just shipped over $1,000,000 of salt cod to Italy when Benito Mussolini seized power. The dictator ordered the fish confiscated. Nearly bankrupted by the act, Gorton-Pew asked Clarence Birdseye to help with his new flash-freezing process. Frozen fish made Gorton-Pew one of the top ten seafood suppliers in North America.