What Does Spaghetti Sauce Have to Do with Jesus?

Acts 4:12

What Does Spaghetti Sauce Have to Do With Jesus?

Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer


Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

I would like to discuss a very important matter with you this morning.  It has to do with the invention of the modern-day spaghetti sauce. Are any of you familiar with the invention of modern-day spaghetti sauce? 

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point, discussed the invention of the modern day spaghetti sauce. (See his presentation on You Tube).

According to Gladwell, the invention of the modern spaghetti sauce goes back to the early 1980s and a man named Howard Moscowitz – a psycho-physicist who also consults with major food manufactures/distributors.  

(In early 70s, Pepsi came to Howard and wanted him to help them develop the perfect Pepsi. He came back to them and said, “You need to stop thinking about developing the perfect Pepsi and instead think of “Pepsis”.  Same with Vlasic pickles.  They wanted to market the perfect pickle, but he told them there is no “perfect pickle”… only “perfect pickles”.  There was no need for them to perfect the regular pickle but they needed to develop other varieties of pickles.  Soon, they created the “zesty” pickle.)   

In the early 80s Campbell Foods came to Howard because their Prego spaghetti sauce was struggling to find its fair share of the market.  In the 70s-80s Ragu was the dominant sauce.  Campbell Foods wanted Howard to “fix the problem.  Help us develop the perfect sauce!” they said.

As Howard thought on the problem, he came back with a solution.  The solution: stop thinking of the “perfect sauce” and think in terms of “sauces”.  Howard made up 45 varieties of sauces and varied them according to: sweetness, levels of garlic, tartness, sourness, “tomatoiness”, visible solids, and so on.  He took these 45 sauces on the road to NYC, Chicago, LA – all across the USA – and he had people brought in by the truckload and had them sample the sauces.  Over a two hour period he gave them 10 bowls of different sauces.  After they ate the pasta and sauce, they were asked to rate them. 

Moscowitz analyzed the data and found that the citizens of the United States could be divided into three categories of spaghetti sauce: 1/3 preferred Plain sauce, 1/3 preferred Spicy sauce and 1/3 preferred Extra Chunky sauce.  What you need to know is that in the early 80s there were no “chunky sauces”.  Prego, seeing that 1/3 of all Americans craved “chunky” sauce, developed and marketed a line of “extra chunky” sauce.  The sauce was a hit!  Over the next 10 years Prego made $600 million off the extra chunky spaghetti sauce!  

Other industries saw this trend and thought, “we’ve been doing this all wrong!  We’ve been trying to develop and market the “perfect” product when what we need to do is develop many related products that suit individual tastes.”  Soon we had 3 different kinds of vinegars, 5 kinds of mustards, 7 kinds of pickles and 10 varieties of colas, and so on.         

Even Ragu came to Moscowitz and asked him to help them improve their product line.  Ragu soon marketed 36 kinds of sauces in 6 varieties – cheese, rich and hardy, robusto, light, old world tradition, and extra-chunky garden. 

You see Moscowitz perceived there was a shift taking place in the mindset of many people.  In the 70s, the earliest “Ragu” imitated the “perfect” sauce … the Italian sauce which was thought to be the “perfect” sauce was blended, thin, watery with no visible solids. This sauce sunk to the bottom of the noodles and saturated your plate.  The predominant thought was that you needed to give the customer the most culturally “authentic” sauce.  This “perfect” sauce would make the most people happy.  But with the advent of the 1980s, there was massive shift in thinking. There is no perfect or better spaghetti sauce.  There are just different sauces.  Different sauces for different people according to their varied tastes.  The best sauce is the sauce that suites your taste … that is pleasing to your palate. It’s not about absolutes or truth, but personal choice.    

This belief or philosophy may be okay when we talk about varieties of Pepsi/Coke or mustards or coffee or spaghetti sauce … there might not be the perfect spaghetti sauce or perfect Pepsi or perfect pickle but what about when we apply this way of thinking to “saviours”?  Is there a perfect Saviour … only one Saviour … or are there many saviours? 

In next Sunday’s post, Dr. Schaeffer will answer the question, “Is there a perfect Saviour or are there many saviours?” 

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