It is not uncommon to hear a preacher use a metaphor such as "Recipe for a Good Life" or similar to bring home the idea that living a good life is as simple as following a recipe. The metaphor is a tried and true figure of speech to aid people in understanding. Lakoff & Johnson (1980) wrote that the metaphor is much more than a figure of speech, "metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action."
However, I have come across a situation where the metaphor is quite literal and is being used as the sum and substance of the creation and marketing of a food item, not just a means to explain an idea.
Browsing through one of my favorite retail stores recently I happened upon a product called Ezekiel 4:9, billed as "the original - flourless low glycemic sprouted 100% whole grain bread"! My first reaction was surprise as this is a product I have rarely seen in the mainstream marketplace (other than Trader Joe's). But, this was in Costco.
As a marketer, two observations come to mind: (a) Costco label readers are going to love this; and (b) Costco is truly a great place to introduce products to the mainstream. Moreover, I was intrigued with the simple, and appropriate marketing. Ezekiel 4:9 is not simply a metaphor, it is the recipe. Straight from the wrapper: "As described in the Holy Scripture verse: "Take also unto there WHEAT, and BARLEY, and BEANS, and LENTILS, and MILLET, and SPELT, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it ..." Ezekiel 4:9." Who knew?
I did a quick search of the web and found http://www.foodforlife.com/about_us/ezekiel-49, the web site of Food For Life Baking Company, Corona, CA. The firm's Facebook page reports it is was founded in 1964, but the web site claims it has been producing sprouted products for 40 years. (Need an update here, FFL).
By the way, sprouting is a process of soaking grains until they grow a sprout. This process unlocks nutrients. FFL advises:
Sprouted grain breads are becoming popular among health conscious people and those with mild sensitivities to wheat or gluten because of the health benefits when compared to white flour. Although, someone with moderate to severe gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and allergies should not consume any type of product containing gluten.
This is a cleverly written piece and makes a distinction between sufferers and people who simply want to eat more healthy. Package claims are substantive and play well on the Ezekiel 4:9 wrapper: low glycemic (for diabetics), certified organic (for those concerned with pesticides, herbicides and hormone issues) and, of course, an iconic dove with sprout as an integral visual part of its package panel, to appeal to Bible believers.
We teach that brands are often rooted in a great story and FFL traces its story back to Max Torres, a health food advocate before it was cool. The story portrays Max as a guy who believed you are what you eat and ventured out to learn more. Ironically, or perhaps contributory, it would be about this time that Continental Baking (the original sliced bread people) ramped up their claims for Wonder Bread by advertising the claim "Builds Bodies 12 Ways!" This very successful push for enriched bread turned out to be a pretty awful health claim and the perfect juxtaposition for a brand like Ezekiel 4:9.
Marketing has evolved, but the basic ingredient for success remains in tact: get and keep customers by helping them discover an unmet need. Lakoff, George & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.