At Kosherfest, the world’s largest kosher trade show, Yiddish and Hebrew is heard alongside English. Some 6,000 kosher-food insiders packed the massive hall, chatting, networking, and tasting.
The crowd skews male and Orthodox — in fact, it may be one of the only events where the men’s bathroom has a longer line than the women’s one.
The annual two-day expo, held this week at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, is a food mecca for those who keep kosher.
Among the more than 325 exhibitors were vendors touting everything from the kosher staples — beef salami, latkes, and Israeli wines — to new and unexpected foods, such as a line of Korean products.
Here are some exciting and unique kosher products that are new to the market or will be hitting stores soon.
Manischewitz is launching a line of matzah-fied treats that will make Passover a bit more fun for kids — and maybe adults, too. Before Passover, which falls in April, the company will introduce two do-it-yourself food “kits”: matzah s’mores and matzah pizza.
“This year at Manischewitz, it’s all about kids,” the company’s president and CEO, David Sugarman, said. “We sat around and thought about what fun items can we come up with for Passover that would get kids engaged in Passover.”
The s’mores kit, which won Kosherfest’s award for best new kosher-for-Passover product, comes with all the necessary ingredients — mini matzahs, chocolate, and marshmallows. The pizza kit, however, contains just triangle-shaped matzah and sauce; moms and dads must provide the cheese and any other toppings.
The kits are so appealingly designed that parents may be tempted to share the goodies with their kids.
“We think there’s going to be a lot of adults with kids who are going to be sneaking these items while their kids are off at school,” Sugarman said.
Dyna Sea is a pro in the world of imitation shellfish — “surimi,” as it is called in Japanese. It’s been in business for nearly 20 years. The kosher food company even has Japanese consumers buying its products, according to owner Daniel Berlin.
These imitation crab cakes, which won Kosherfest’s best new product award for frozen foods, are made with imported Alaskan pollock. Berlin said they taste very close to the real deal.
“It has such a beautiful, rich, seafood flavor and a texture, a mouth feel, that really simulates the real thing,” he said.
And though this reporter has never had a real crab cake, she couldn’t help but go in for a second faux one.
Kosher-keeping chocoholics know the pain of overly sweet pareve (non-dairy) chocolate-hazelnut spreads that lack the richness of Nutella, which is made with milk. Those spreads never quite hit the spot.
But this new Italian-produced spread — named the best new product at Kosherfest — is a game changer. Parvella CEO Gabriele Zarrugh worked for two years to develop the spread, saying he was motivated by the desire to make a delicious kosher product that was accessible to consumers with dietary restrictions. Parvella is gluten, dairy, egg, peanut, and palm-oil free.
Highland Pop’s president, Kimberly Cohen, has a thing for popcorn.
In 2012, she opened a small popcorn shop in suburban Chicago. Since then, Cohen has developed nearly 100 flavors of the addictive snack, which she is hoping to distribute nationally.
Kosherfest deemed Highland Pop the best new savory snack. Cohen’s inventive varieties accurately evoke their namesakes: The birthday cake flavor is topped with colorful sprinkles; there’s a kick of cinnamon on the crispy exterior of the cinnamon churro kettle flavor.
“It’s my passion,” she said. “Coming up with a new flavor makes me feel so good. Churro kettle is my favorite one right now, although next week I’ll probably have a different flavor that I like.”
Marzipan rugelach from Israel
For decades, the Marzipan Bakery in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market has been nearly as much of a tourist destination as the Western Wall.
Once you’re in the shuk, the shop isn’t hard to find. Its rugelach’s sweet, chocolatey scent wafts its way through the market, enticing visitors to pay a visit and buy a pastry — or maybe 10 of them.
Now, Marzipan’s rugelach are available in the United States. The chief marketing officer for M Bakeries, its distributor in America, said the company was inspired to get on board after learning that Americans would bring home suitcases full of the pastry from Israel.
“They got so addicted to this particular rugelach that is considered the best in the world,” Milton Weinstock said.
The rugelach, which are made according to a secret family recipe, are best served warm, according to someone at the Marzipan booth.
This reporter agrees: Fresh out of the oven, the chocolate filling and dough become irresistibly gooey.
JTA Wire Service