The relationship between Jews and food goes back centuries, at the very least, but recently there have been some dramatic changes.
With the progress that has been made in the world of kosher certification, the products that have been introduced to us quite honestly, are astounding. Whoever thought that an observant Jew would know what shrimp tastes like? Or a cheeseburger? Or authentic deep-dish pizza? For years, kosher-observing boys and girls would feel their mouths water at the thought of eating a Snickers bar or a Drake’s Yodel. Then they couldn’t. Now they can. Truly amazing.
And the ingredients, for the most part, are still the same. What changed is that the companies that make these goodies decided to pay for kosher supervision, so they could open their delicious products to a whole new group of people.
But for those in the kosher culinary world, a world where the food on Passover now tastes better than the food you eat during the year, a world where you never have to feel that you are missing out on something because so many things are kosher, Kosherfest, which is held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center ever year, is the end all and be all convention. It’s where members of the kosher food industry gather, ready to sample all that is kosher and delicious — as well as some things that are not-so-delicious — and pass on the new goods to the rest of us.
It is hard to describe Kosherfest adequately. Even when you include pictures, you cannot do it justice. It also is a challenge to detail all the products that are represented, so here is a sample of some of the new foods that have been unleashed on the world of kosher consumers, as well as some products that have been with us for generations and never disappoint our discerning palates.
Stephen and Andrew Leibowitz are the father-and-son team who now run Guss’ Pickles. (Yes, that’s their apostrophe.) They love to tell the story of Max Leibowitz, who arrived from Russia in 1897, speaking no English. Using a generations-old recipe, Max began selling his pickles right out of the barrel on the Lower East Side. Guss’ stand became the most sought-out destination among pickle connoisseurs. And now Stephen and Andrew, his grandson and great-grandson, continue this tradition. Guss’ Pickles can be found in stores all across the country.
If you are thirsty after eating a pickle, try some Oxigen water, “The World’s Premier Oxygen Supplement in Bottled Water.” According to Oxigen’s sales director, Max Lewis, this oxygen-enriched water is a wonderful antidote for jet lag and hangover recovery.
(And yes, water is kosher, but the supervision can’t hurt…)
If you have always wanted to send a gift basket that contained only kosher items, or even a basket that you could help design yourself, then Capalbo’s Gift Baskets are for you. Sales associate Miriam Mittman said, “The company is over 100 years old, and for the past 10 years we have had a line of products that are completely kosher under the OK.” (OK is a Chabad-linked hecksher.) Holiday season is busy for Capalbo’s, because now various work places know they can send their customers who keep kosher a basket that they actually can enjoy, with food they actually can eat. “We are very sensitive to the needs of our kosher clientele,” she said.
Are you in the mood for something sweet, non-dairy, gluten-free, and delicious? Welcome to the world of Pudology. This company was founded in the United Kingdom by Lucy Wager, who has worked for years to develop a line of puddings to please everyone’s palate. “I came to Kosherfest to find distributors for Pudology,” she said. “It is time for America to start enjoying these delicious and healthier desserts.” Pudding flavors range from Smooth Chocolate Orange Puds to Simply Sumptuous Millionaires Puds.
Looking for something healthy, crunchy, and a little closer to home? Englewood resident Aimee Turner has been developing her granola for years. “First I just started making it for my friends,” she said. “And then my friends said I should make it for everyone.” She even started selling it at Julio’s Fruit Boutique in Teaneck. Now that it is under the Orthodox Union certification, Ms. Turner wants Granolachik to be everywhere. And with her delicious granola, which comes in various flavors, and her determination to succeed, she will be.
Michael Shoretz is the founder of Enlightened, an ice cream that is good for you. It is protein-packed and has fewer calories than most ice creams. This was Mr. Shoretz’s first year at Kosherfest. “We are excited to introduce the Enlightened brand to the market, and we believe that this consumer will appreciate the combination of delicious flavor and nutritional value we bring,” Mr. Shoretz said. “Kosherfest was a perfect opportunity to share our story with the market and the reception to our products was fantastic.” Enlightened also displayed its new roasted broad-bean crisps. “You can add it to yogurts and salads.” Healthy, crunchy and delicious!
As you walk the aisles you can sample everything from Jack’s sausages to Streits matzah, and if you are thirsty, you’re in luck. Almost every kosher wine from Israel and beyond is represented. But just remember whether you drove yourself to Kosherfest, because then you might have to think twice about sampling all those wines.