Friday, October 23, 2015

Vintage King Oscar

King Oscar Vintage. I never knew such a thing existed other than the tin of King Oscars' that I occasionally find in the back of a cupboard. That is until this past December when King Oscar ran their annual Haiku contest. Select winners were awarded a tin of Vintage 1999 King Oscar Sardines. I was fortunate enough to win such a tin. I was also fortunate enough to receive three tins from other sardine Eaters that could not bring themselves to eat a tin of vintage sardines.  Up until then, I thought only the French aged their sardines. It seems Norwegians have their little fish secrets--at least starting in 1993, when King Oscar first started aging Sardines. From KO Facebook:
 "Every year since 1993 when the tradition began, King Oscar produces a small batch of "Vintage Bristling Sardines" from what is considered the best catch of any particular year. This short run is sold in select stores in Norway, otherwise we store small quantities for special occasions".

King Oscar Vintage Sardines come in a set of three in a gift box that includes a certificate with information about the fishing boat, along with the place and date of the catch. Only receiving one tin, I did not receive a box or certificate. I would of like to, honestly. I wonder what they did with all the empty boxes? 

Photo: Via King Oscar product page.

I've always been a fan of wrapped label tinned sardines, which are more popular in Portugal. Many sardine canneries are using plastic-wrapped tins.
label from the 2013 year. Photo via King Oscar Facebook.

Only having aged sardines from France, I was curious as to what to expect from King Oscar. My first thought was how are they aging them? Setting them in a dark warehouse somewhere perhaps... are they being flipped periodically throughout the years? I'm a huge fan of aged sardines, especially French ones. 

Popping open the tin, I am met with an aroma of olive oil. In King Oscar fashion, they are a tin of two layers. All else in appearance is what you would expect from a tin of King Oscar. 

    Removing the fish from the tin, using the server, they held their shape well.  Pretty little fish.

Being a tin of "Vintage" King Oscar, I found it only suiting to break out the vintage King Oscar sardine prong. (Being made in Germany, I'm curious about the year this device was made?)

These sardines were softer in texture compared to the ones not aged. The little fish broke apart pretty easily while attempting to impale the little fish. 

It was time to go back to the Sardine Server to get these little tender fish out of the tin. 

The fish themselves had a very mild flavor. The olive oil balanced out nicely. Like wine, olive oil in any given year can make or break a can of sardines, sometimes contributing to a bitter taste or some may even call it a green taste. I took my time to consume the tin. It was a very good treat indeed. While a tin from 1999 may seem like an old tin, I've had tins much older. The quality of the these fish and tin remains great. I would like to see these offered in the States, but I'm sure it would be based on consumer wants or willingness. 

Bottom of tin: Norway

Sadly, most Americans live by that expiration date printed on food packages. A day before or after, and people trash it. Aged sardines may be a hard sale to the mass public. If you have never tried aged sardines, as I've said numerous times, "You owe it to yourself." While you may not be able to find some vintage King Oscars nearby, you should be able to locate some aged French sardines at a specialty store or even online. Or, you can age your own. I always have some tins on hand that's ageing. I flip them about every 6 months. Just store them in a dark, cool location. 

I like to keep sardines for aging in old military ammo cans. The size will determine how many tins they will hold. (Olive oil seems to be the medium of choice for aging sardines.) I use a medium-sized ammo can. Each ammo can hold 27 tins of sardines.

vintage, King Oscar, 1999. Vintage Stanley thermos around 1913.

With the Vintage Sardines, who could resist some photo ops. Sardine food porn at its finest.

For more info on King Oscars aged sardines click HERE

King Oscar offers different variety of flavors of little fish in different areas.

Check out their other sites for more info.

Click HERE to see what is offered in other countries. 

Rather it's aged sardines or a tin fresh off the shipping truck, keep popping those tins, Sardine Eaters!


  1. Another very cool blog post. I've never ate sardines past their expiration date, but have ate other canned foods, like stews, chili's and soups. In most cased the taste is a bit different, but not bad.

    1. Thank you! Aged sardines has quickly become a favorite of mine.

  2. I won a 1st place prize in the latest KO haiku contest!
    They're sending a box of LE vintage sardines, a cap, (cap was my choice, also could have gotten an apron or tee shirt) and "some other prizes."
    I'm stoked!! I'll post a pic of my prizes when they come along with my winning haiku.