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Sabbath at the Spectrum Café: “What the Haystack?!”


A haystack by any other name: nachos, an organized taco salad, Frito pie, or perhaps a petro. If you’ve shared enough meals with Adventists, you’ve probably watched the construction of the ubiquitous haystack, or heard it mentioned, much like the phrase “Happy Sabbath.”* 

This week’s Spectrum Café features thoughts on haystacks from a fresh perspective: non-Adventist college students. “What the Haystack?!”, directed by Pacific Union College film and television major Halstyn Hart, explores the perspectives that six students (Catholic, Buddhist, Pentecostal, “not really religious” and non-denominational) have about Adventism, through their experiences at PUC. The film premiered at the recent SONscreen film festival in Simi Valley (click here for photos from the festival; scroll down to see what was served for Sabbath lunch). See below for an excerpt from the film.

Hart says that growing up as an Adventist inspired her curiosity about a non-Adventist perspective on life at a denominational college campus. Through the film, she found that the students featured were “confused about the Adventist practices and the culture that we have formed,” she says. “Haystacks are the tangible [representation] of Adventist culture; people have eaten similar things, but the term is new.” But, in a past article, the Adventist Review thinks they might have found the origin of Adventist haystacks.

“The haystack is a good doorway to sharing with friends. It’s something everyone can enjoy, whether you’re vegetarian or not,” Hart says. For comparison, Hart also serves the students an exotic buffet of meat analogues, including veggie burgers, veggie links, and Stripples. The “fake meat” was much less popular than haystacks, but as one student bravely states, “When I was younger, I ate the chocolate-covered cricket thing. It’s OK; I’ll explore.”

Hart is looking for a way to share the film beyond its current YouTube audience. And, she muses, “I still don’t know why we call them haystacks.”

Note: This video is an excerpt from “What the Haystack?!”


What do you think of as the quintessential haystack? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


“Just a stack of food,” as one Adventist woman writes on her website. This West Coast-style, vegan-friendly dish is my version of the perfect haystack. I usually volunteer to bring the salsa.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: n/a


1 bag blue corn tortilla chips
1 15-oz can black beans
Sharp Cheddar cheese (or Cheddar-style almond “cheese”), grated
Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
Tomatoes, chopped
Medium-spicy fresh salsa
Sour cream (perhaps)


1. Place the tortilla chips on a plate and lightly crush them.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed (very important).

3. Wish your neighbors “Happy Sabbath.”

*Spectrum couldn’t feature a food column without mentioning haystacks, sooner or later.

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