People Change Their Name to “Salmon” for Free Sushi, Now They Can’t Change It Back

A number of Taiwan sushi fans who legally changed their name to include the characters for the word ‘salmon’, as part of a restaurant promotional stunt, have now become stuck with it.

Taiwanese legislators are currently debating the possibility to change a law that only allows citizens to legally change their names a maximum of three times as a way to mitigate the aftermath of an event known as “Salmon Chaos”. In March of 2021, international news outlets covered the bizarre promotion of Taiwanese restaurant chain Sushiro, which offered sushi at discounted prices or totally free to people who legally changed their names to include the characters for ‘salmon’. Over 300 people reportedly took Sushiro up on their offer, and while most managed to switch back their old names days after taking advantage of the promotion, some have been stuck with hilarious names like ‘Handsom Salmon’, ‘Dancing Salmon’ or ‘Salmon Dream’.

Photo: Luigi Pozzoli/Unsplash

Salmon Chaos hit Taiwan in March of 2021, when popular conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain Sushiro announced that people whose names were homophones for the work ‘salmon’ (guiyu) could dine at discounted prices, while those whose names include the exact characters for salmon could eat for free with up to five other people.

The offer sent hundreds of people into a frenzy, with over 330 of them actually going through with the legal name change, despite the efforts of employees at Household Registration Offices to talk them out of it. The promotion got widespread covered in the media and was even described as a national embarrassment by Taiwanese politicians.

Most of the hundreds of so-called ‘Salmoners’ either treated themselves and friends to a free sushi meal, or charged others for a seat at the table, after which they switched back to their original names without much fanfare. It may have been a waste of resources and public servants’ time, but it was all forgotten eventually. Except not every Salmoner had it this easy.

More than a year after Salmon Chaos, some of those who legally changed their names to include the characters for ‘salmon’, are still stuck with them, and it’s all because of Taiwan’s law that only allows people three name changes.

“After the salmon chaos incident some people had already changed their name three times and now have no way to change them back,” said New Power Party legislator, Chiu Hsien-chih.

For example, a student who changed his name to “Truong’s Salmon Dream” discovered that his parents had already changed his name two times when he was a baby, and he had exhausted his third try. Unless the legislation changes, he is stuck with ‘Salmon Dream’ for the rest of his life.


But while some have suggested that changing the law to be more lenient, and making it more difficult and expensive for people to change their names – by increasing fees and waiting times – rather than limiting the number of possible changes, others say that it shouldn’t be done to help adults who just made stupid decisions.

“How can we amend the law for those who sell their personality for the sake of benefits?” one person wrote on social media.

“Be responsible for your own life, Salmons!” another commented.

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