Survey: Americans know Big Mac, not commandments

Quick. Name each of the Ten Commandments. OK. Now name the ingredients in a Big Mac hamburger sold at McDonald’s.

According to a new survey, the Big Mac wins the memory contest.

In truth, the Big Mac has advantages. There are only seven ingredients to remember, and they have a catchy jingle behind them. McDonald’s Corp. has poured enough money into commercials that the decades-old jingle remains familiar today.

The survey of 1,000 Americans, by Kelton Research, was undertaken to help promote the new animated movie “The Ten Commandments,” which will open on 700 screens nationwide Oct. 19. Voice talents featured in the movie include Ben Kingsley as the narrator, Christian Slater as Moses, Alfred Molina as Ramses and Elliott Gould as the voice of God.

The vast majority of those surveyed could easily name the primary ingredients in a Big Mac: two all-beef patties (80 percent), lettuce (76 percent), sesame-seed bun (75 percent), special sauce (66 percent), pickles (62 percent) and cheese (60 percent).

By comparison, “You shall not kill” was known to fewer than six in 10 respondents. Less than half (45 percent) could recall the commandment to “Honor your father and mother.”
Even those who said they go to church at least once a week had trouble naming all of the commandments. Seventy percent recalled “You shall not kill” and 69 percent remembered “You shall not steal” but the Big Mac’s all-beef patties and lettuce got more recognition from the survey group (79 and 76 percent, respectively).

Survey participants also had an easier time remembering the names of the kids from the old TV series “The Brady Bunch.” The least remembered of that sextet, Bobby and Peter, had a 43 percent recognition rate, better than the two least-remembered commandments to keep holy the Sabbath (34 percent) and to not have any gods besides God (29 percent).
During an Oct. 2 conference call to promote the movie, Paul Lauer of Motive Marketing said survey respondents were asked to write down the commandments they remembered, so even though Catholic and Protestant formulations of the Ten Commandments differ slightly, responses from either faith group would have been declared correct.

Here’s a quick review of the Ten Commandments, as found in Chapter 20 of Exodus in the 1970 edition of the New American Bible:

– “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.”

– “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.”

– “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”

– “Honor your father and your mother.”

– “You shall not kill.”

– “You shall not commit adultery.”

– “You shall not steal.”

– “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

– “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.”

– “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, or anything else that belongs to him.”

The screenwriter of the “Ten Commandments” film, Ed Naha, a Catholic whose previous credits include “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” said he hopes the movie “will appeal to people who don’t know the Bible.”

Cindy Bond, president and chief operating officer of Promenade Pictures, said, “‘The Ten Commandments’ was the movie he (Naha) was being called to write.” Ms. Bond added that it is the first in a series of 12 planned animated “Epic Stories of the Bible.”

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.