Was it Really the Calamari? Sports, Squid, & Superstitions

A white plate of fried calamari rings and tentacles, with lemon wedges, a side of marinara, and dusting of parmesan cheese


When Jordan Hawkins, UConn basketball star, found himself sick before the big game, he glazed over his steak, potatoes, and mac 'n' cheese, placing his blame squarely on his appetizer: “I think it was the calamari,” Hawkins said. “Had to be. I love calamari, too. I don’t think I’m ever eating it again.”

But did he know that for sure? Well, The New York Times reports that the restaurant brought receipts:  “The basketball team dined with us Thursday evening and had 13 orders of calamari. How did one person get food poisoning if 13 orders were on the check?” the representative said, in addition to providing copies of receipts.

So why did Hawkins blame the appetizer he shared with his team? Seafood often gets blamed - and often unfairly.

"Seafood as a whole is very safe when it is stored and prepared following safe food handling guidelines as set out by the FDA," said Brianna Hughes, Ph.D., a food scientist and The Town Dock's Vice President of Quality, Operations, & Supply Chain. "The risk is no different than any other animal protein, though people tend to speak about seafood as a whole, compared to animal protein which people speak of specifically, such as chicken, pork, or beef. Each of these have unique food safety risks that are all managed with unique safe handling guidelines."

"Calamari is a pretty low risk seafood," she added, "And has the helpful advantage of being the type of seafood that will start to smell terrible before it becomes unsafe."

All of The Town Dock's product packaging include safe handling instructions for holding, thawing, and cooking the seafood. 

In terms of Hawkins' aversion to his snack? Avoiding calamari forever would be tragic, but she notes that it's actually an important part of our evolution; food aversion protected our ancestors, preventing them from re-visiting problematic food sources and avoiding a potentially worse outcome the next time around. 

"Our food supply is much safer than it was millennia ago though, so I hope Mr. Hawkins will be willing to try calamari again," she said. She pointed out that he likely had a fried calamari dish, and perhaps a way forward could be one of the many non-fried recipes on our website or trying one of our delicious calamari steaks, since they'll be different experience. 

"Hopefully, he'll have his very own calamari comeback."