Dr. Howard Moskowitz and the Tomato Sauce

“…His next client is even more important – The Campbell Soup Company. This is where Howard made his reputation. Campbell Soup made Prego, the trade mark brand name pasta sauce, which was struggling against Ragu Sauce, in the 70s and 80s. Now it is quite well known in the industry that Prego is a much better sauce, with its perfect mixture of spices and the fact that it blends beautifully with pasta, as was proven by the famous bowl test. But despite this, they were in trouble, and that is when Howard came to the rescue. What he did to this ‘dead tomato sauce’ was that he went to the Campbell Soup kitchen and made over 45 different varieties of tomato sauce, and he varied them in every way that you could possibly think of – sourness, level of garlic, tartness, what have you. He took these sauces to New York, Chicago etc., sat truckloads of people down into a hall with a bowl of pasta for each with his varieties of sauce and asked them to rate on a scale of 0 to 100 about how good they thought the sauce was.

Now, after months of this activity, he had a mountain load of data about how the American people feel about spaghetti sauce. Now would he look for the perfect pasta sauce? No, Howard doesn’t believe that there can be only one. Instead, he grouped this data into clusters to see if a pattern emerges, and it sure did. He found that there are three types of Americans when it comes to spaghetti sauce – there are people who like it plain, those who like it spicy and those who like it “extra chunky”. The third type – “extra chunky” sauce was nowhere to be found in the American supermarkets of the 1980s.

So the revelation was that there are one-third of Americans who crave for “extra chunky” sauce, yet no one is servicing their needs! And then, the “extra chunky” line of sauces that Prego came up with earned them $600 million over the next ten years.

         Once everyone else in the industry realized this, we started having 7 different kinds of vinegar, 14 different kinds of mustard and 71 different kinds of olive oil. Guess what, Ragu eventually hired Howard to do the same for them, and what we ended up getting was 36 different red sauces in Germany, in six varieties, one of which was "extra chunky". That is Dr. Moskowitz's gift to the world. It has changed the way the food industry things about making us 'happy'." Tanuj Nabar, Executive Officer - Marketing at Huhtamaki, Linked In.

Personally, I prefer to chunk my own smooth Marinara sauce.

Did Dr. Moskowitz start a revolution? Yes would be a good guess.

Did Dr. Moskowitz’s revolution change things for me?

`     I don’t go shopping anymore, I go guessing! It’s serious guesswork too!

Is shopping stressful for me? Yes and no. The major portion of my shopping is for food. How do I get the best quality for the least money? Does the generic taste as good as the name brand? Can I make lasagna with turkey instead of beef?

While those choices sound simple enough add in one more consideration into the mix.

Can I afford to experiment on my fixed income?

Shopping for clothing is, for me at least fairly easy. Because of my biceps and waistline, I am forced to shop in the big and tall men’s section. If I can’t find what I want, I do not buy what I won’t or can’t wear. Finding something that fits and that I like is the stressor.

It can be depressing at times because who wouldn’t love to always look their best? I mean, come on to strut the beach in Speedos but the reality is Speedos are for young men, not old dudes. Alas, poor body I once knew you so well.

My choice is, I’ll stay home because the sun is not good for my complexion. (Lame)

When I was a kid back in the 1950-60s it was easier to buy clothes, at least for boys. Levi’s were in along with flannel shirts, white socks and black leather belt. I think the boy’s department had only one aisle while the girl’s department had sixty-three, or more. It is no wonder I remember a lot of “I won’t wear that” screams from their direction.

Are there too many choices now? From my standpoint, yes. Too many choices means too many options which equates to the manufacturer having to price products based on material cost, labor cost, shipping and waste allowances for styles and sizes that don’t sell.

I am paying extra for my Levi jeans because no one wants to buy the Armani jeans with rhinestones on the zipper. Too many choices equates to too much waste in almost everything we purchase and suppresses creativity. We tie-dyed, cut holes in our jeans by ourselves (through work primarily) and took old shirts, cut off their sleeves and made muscle shirts.

Thanks for nothing Dr. Moskowitz!

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