Legal Sea Foods’ new religion: Pescatarianism

August 18, 2015 • 8:20 am

It’s not often that commercials on a big television station so clearly spoof religion. This series, compiled in the video below, was produced by Legal Seafoods, a once-reputed restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I used to get my parents to take me to the first restaruant when I was in grad school. and it’s now expanded to a chain with branches in 7 states. I don’t know if it’s still as good as it once was.

That aside, Legal Seafoods has produced a series of commercials extolling a new religion, Pescitarianism, which is based on the premise of eating fish constantly. (I wonder if Olive Garden will now ape them and propose Pastafarianism.) The interesting thing is that the series of commercials, shown below, show no respect for existing religion. That could take place only in liberal states like Massachusetts. Here’s what’s satirized in the ads:

  • Jesus feeding the masses with fish
  • Catholics eating fish on Fridays
  • Miracles
  • Moses dividing the Red Sea
  • Presbyterian sermons

As the Boston Globe reports:

Roger Berkowitz, the chief executive of Legal Sea Foods, calls himself the “high priest” of the fish-eating church. “I’m converted,” said Berkowitz, who is Jewish. “We love the idea that we’re elevating seafood to a religious experience.”

Legal Sea Foods is known for eccentric and sometimes controversial ad campaigns that push the envelope, compared with more traditional advertising.

. . . Television advertisements, which begin airing next week, feature stock video of peaceful waves rolling onto a beach, high mountains, clouds, and a prairie with the sun beaming in the distance. A male voice-over says catch phrases like “In our book, gluttony isn’t a sin. It’s a commandment.” The ads end with a call to become a pescatarian.

A gag website for the would-be faith [JAC: here] lists famous pescatarians (“Noah, probably”) and lays out the religion’s creed to spread its beliefs, shun imitation crab meat, and eat fish and seafood at all times.

“If I cannot find such items, or I am stuck in a landlocked state filled with beef and poultry, such as Nebraska or Iowa,” the creed states, “I shalt resist temptation and order a salad instead.”

It’s a sign of our increasingly secular times that Legal Seafoods can not only get away with this, but thinks it will appeal to viewers. Of course there are those Christians who simply can’t stand these parodies. Here’s a pair of The Offended from the YouTube site:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 7.11.37 AM

h/t: Tom

87 thoughts on “Legal Sea Foods’ new religion: Pescatarianism

  1. Eve and Heather need to get:
    1. a grip
    2. a sense of humor
    3. some perspective

    Not necessarily in that order.

  2. Jerry, it’s still just as good, albeit a bit more upscale and expensive than when there was one restaurant in Inman Sq, where you sat at long tables with whoever (local policeman, fire-fighter, etc.) devouring your fish & chips.

    I had one of their T-shirts which had a smiling fish on it with the message: “I Got Schrod Last Night at Legal Seafoods.”

    1. I do agree that it is still very good seafood (at the three Massachusetts restaurants where I ate). It is expensive, especially if you order alcohol, appetizer and dessert. Other seafood restaurants are now as good, and some are less expensive.

      1. I like that they have a place at Logan Airport where you can get good seafood while waiting for your flight. (At least this was true the last few times I flew in/out of Boston.)

            1. Absolutely!
              Little Moir’s Food Shack and Jetty’s in Jupiter are favorites. It’s not PBC, but the Seawatch in Ft. Lauderdale is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

        1. Indeed, we ate at their Logan Airport location last month. It was excellent, although as people say it is somewhat expensive. As I recall they also promote sustainable use of seafood.

        2. Their Logan shop did take-out, too. They’d set you up with a half-dozen lobsters and a tub of frozen chowder in an insulated cardboard box folded up into a carry-on.

          I ever made a trip to Boston and came home without a box of bugs, a tub of chowder, and a quart of fried clams (with bellies, of course), I’d be in Dutch with the family, big-time.

    2. There’s a Legal Seafood north-ish of DC in that no-man’s land between Bethesda and Rockville. I usually get fish and chips though because I’m one of those people.

      1. Having just been to Boston for the American Chemical Society National Meeting, I ate at the theatre district one. Was not too impressed, to be honest. The next night I ate at Ostra. THAT was good seafood! Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade…

  3. Eve and Heather are so cliche.

    Apologies, but I can’t help myself. Olive Garden isn’t horrible, but they are overpriced and the food is mediocre at best. And their bread sticks are boring. All you can eat soup, salad and breadsticks? No thanks! Maybe at Bacco’s but not Olive Garden.

      1. Indeed. FWIW, Olive Garden is notorious for treating employees poorly. They are one of the outfits that threatened to reduce worker hours because of “Obamacare”.

        1. An ex-girlfriend of mine worked at an Olive Garden about 10 years ago. They treated her horribly.
          Everything said about the menu is true, AND I think their pasta dishes are only slightly better than what I can do with a box of linguini and a jar of Ragu . . . which isn’t much!

      2. Oh heck, it never entered my mind that you thought Olive Garden was good Jerry! I wouldn’t be surprised if you had never been in one before.

          1. I’ve eaten there more than once, but I don’t think I need more than one hand to count how many times. The one thing I remember more than anything else is that everything was practically encrusted in salt, to the point that there wasn’t anything else to taste. And, by “everything,” I mean exactly that — from the salad to the breadsticks to the pasta. Salt, salt, salt, and more salt.

            I’ve nothing against salt — quite the contrary. Pretty much every savory dish I make gets some. But if you can actually taste the salt as a distinct flavor, you’ve typically gone overboard. And when it’s the predominant flavor….

            b&

          2. I went there in the 90s as a starving student to take advantage of their unlimited soup & bread deal. They totally cut you off when they see you are a starving student who will endlessly eat soup and bread.

            They left Canada years ago (except for a few locations in Alberta and maybe one other place) and I felt bad about that but I think it was mostly nostalgia.

            1. Same story here in Ontario about cutting you off with slower and slower service of smaller and smaller servings once they realized you are a starving student (in my case two starving students – my girlfriend, now wife), who took them at their word about “all you can eat.” This is the time when I was skinny in-shape and could actually eat 50 chicken wings (in another bar at 5 cents a wing) – so you can see the dilemma for the Olive Garden idea of “all you can eat.”

              Then they changed it to “all you can eat until your main dish arrives”; and boy did that ever speed them up to get your main dish served.

              Then they mostly went out of business.

    1. We took the grandkids to Olive Garden Friday night. I had a combo eggplant parmigiana, lobster ravioli, spaghetti with meat sauce, cup of pasta fagioli and garlic breadsticks for $13 and took some home. Certainly not expensive and food quality was fine.

      1. They have always done a good business, so I know many people like Olive Garden. But for the same price I can go elsewhere and get much better Italian food. Heck, I’d be willing to pay a bit more actually. Like I said not awful, just medicore.

    2. One of my tests to see if somebody is a Decent Human Being is whether or not they think Olive Garden serves good Italian food. If they think it does, then “whoosh”. That was the sound my rapidly descending opinion of them made.

      Their salads are also boring. C’mon. I can do iceberg lettuce and a couple of other veggies at home. The most exciting part of any meal at OG are the peperoncini on the salad.

          1. Around me Papa John’s pizza is the worst. Last time we ordered some, we tossed it out after a couple of bites.

            The store they had a mile from here went out of business and a local pizza place went in, but I rarely go there, being next door to one of my favorite sushi places.

            1. I used to think I liked Papa John’s.

              But that was only because I had yet tasted a truly good pizza. No more PJ’s for me. If I’m going to indulge, it had better be some damn good pizza. There’s a place here in Minneapolis that makes the best deep-dish. They make their own mozzarella fresh daily, the crust is buttery, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside – almost a fried-type taste and texture. It’s called Mozza Mia.

        1. I agree. Olive Garden didn’t last too long in Montreal, last I checked. Too many other cheap Italian-esque places (and of course, good more genuine stuff).

          Mind you, this doesn’t always happen – Ottawa has a *Domino’s* (of all things!) right in the middle of Corso Italia.

      1. And the little hint of tarragon in their house dressing — as a student that was really special having never tasted it before.

  4. I’m surprised that any Christian is offended, given that each one of the commercials starts out by specifically granting that Christian beliefs are fact. True, there’s a level of sarcasm inherent in satire — but that’s surely going to be seen as too complicated for an audience containing children and the child-like, which is their own target demographic.

  5. The spoof on religion is great. I think those liberal northern states are more like Canada. I ate at Legal Sea Food in Boston when I was there many years ago.

  6. Heather: “when you manage to insult a whole demographic group in one 30 second spot”

    That’s pretty damn impressive indeed. I’ll make sure to visit Legal Sea Foods if I visit the USA again. They’ve just improved their reputation.

    1. My apologies for embedding the video. I tried only to display the link; my comment formatting skills are next to nil.

      1. The system, apparently, will embed a simple video link. So ironically, you have to learn code in order to NOT do something.

        😉

  7. I wonder if the adwriters were inspired by Joseph Mitchell’s composite profile of “Old Mr. Flood,” a self-described “seafooditarian” who is trying to reach age 115 on a diet of basically whiskey, bread and various fishes.

  8. “Watching these commercials is like watching a SNL spoof. How is anyone supposed to take these seriously?”

    So close, Heather! Keep trying.

    1. Heather _almost_ ‘got it’, didn’t she? I wonder if she re-read her comment and the penny finally dropped.

      cr

  9. I think Yahweh foresaw the possibility that Noah could become a Pescatarian. It probably explains:

    “Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate”

    12 tasty animals and any offspring they may produce to eat whilst they waited out the flood.

  10. I read about this over at Friendly Atheist a while back. One of the commenters thought “Legal Seafood” was kind of a strange name, like it was an ill-concealed front for the mafia: “Tony’s Totally Legitimate Seafood Business”.

    1. Ha ha! I never thought of it that way though I did find the name odd.

      There is an insurance company called The Cooperators & I always think it’s run by the Mafia who send around someone to convince you to “cooperate”.

  11. IIRC this is one of several over the top spoof ads that Legal Seafoods have put out (though this is the only one to spoof religion; usually they spoof themselves or fishing).

    In reminds me of the Old Spice ads in some ways. Both companies seemed to have elevated cheesy and lowbrow practically to an art form; so transparently, self-referentially bad that its funny.

  12. I think Ceiling Cat would approve of pescatarianism – after all, she naturally selected Prionailurus viverrinus!

      1. Alas, no. I wouldn’t try to take him to a sushi dinner with Mom and Dad.

        …but I did do a bit of grocery shopping at Whole Paycheck this morning…and they have this basket in the cheese section where they toss all the odds and ends with a net price of under $2…and they had some pâté there that I’ve yet to open but that I suspect both he and I will very much appreciate.

        That basket is truly evil. I keep wind up spending $20 / pound or more on cheese. “But it’s under $2!” Yeah, right…brilliantly evil marketing genius….

        b&

        1. Yeah, I’d be a sucker for that kind of deal too & would also end up spending a ton more than I anticipated. I hope the pâté is tasty to both you and Baihu!

          1. I liked it. Baihu sniffed interestedly at it but declined to partake.

            But I only ate half the portion, so I’ll offer it to him again when I finish the rest. He may well take me up then….

            b&

  13. In reference to the Olive Garden version of faith, it should be noted that Pastafarianism has been around for quite some time and is likely the genesis of Legal Seafood’s campaign. All praise to the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

  14. To answer Heather the YouTuber’s comment on racism for probably the 8934903248th time, race is something you are, not something you believe. This is a basic distinction, without which it is near impossible to participate in a conversation about anything at all where disagreement exists.

    1. Yeah…religion and race are the same? Is this false equivalent a new trope, or has it been around a long time? Seems to be cropping up everywhere.

      1. There was an article here in Oz recently where the writer said that if you don’t like Islam you are racist because most Muslims have dark skin.
        How dumb is that?

        1. Ooh! Let me try!

          If you don’t like Wicca you are sexist because most Wiccans are women.

          If you don’t like tea you’re anti-Buddhist because most Japanese people have Shinto heritage.

          If you don’t like meat you’re a Nazi because Hitler was a vegetarian.

          …how’m’I doin’?

          b&

  15. Well, I’m offended, and I haven’t even seen the ads. 😛 With all the overfishing we do, people shouldn’t be encouraged to eat seafood constantly.

  16. We’d do well to cut down on demand for seafood here in the States, where (unlike in Pacific island countries) there are plenty of other good sources of protein. Marine ecosystems can’t compete with trawlers taking hundreds of thousands of kilos of marine wildlife each day. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/why-renowned-marine-biologist-sylvia-earle-will-not-eat-seafood/

    So, suprised to hear myself say this, but better Presbyterian than Pescatarian.

  17. I think we are missing an important possibility here. I recommend that Legal Seafood call john Oliver regarding significant opportunities for tax exemptions
    for this budding religion.

  18. Only two of the commercials reference Christianity uniquely. For all the Abrahamic religions, Moses is a prophet, gluttony is a sin and God has worked miracles. So why are only Christians acting offended?

  19. From Ms. Huston’s youtube comment: “You’re comparing Legal Seafood to the Holy Creator and … There is no comparison!”

    True enough. One of them intervenes in the material universe, answers prayers, and express ships fresh lobster across the nation.

    The other one’s initials are HC.

  20. I recall when, upon pain of mortal sin, it was verboten for Catholics to eat meat on Fridays. I’ll never be able to look a frozen fish stick in the Birdseye® again.

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