Pesach 2018: Choices and More Choices

Those of us who are old enough to remember Passovers of three or four decades ago will certainly recall the slim pickings. By the close of the eight-day holiday, we undoubtedly had our fill of matzoh, eggs and potatoes, and even Saratoga Geyser with Kedem syrup. Passover was certainly not a time to be a fussy eater. Fast forward to 2018, and you’ve got an estimated record of 55,000 available kosher-for-Passover products. You could begin to wonder ifthere is anything that cannot be made kosher for Passover. But, they keep on coming!

OU Kosher is in the best position to confirm the extraordinary expansion of Passover products, as it has done a yeomen’s job in supervising and certifying Passover products from all over the globe. OU Kosher even certifies the kosher consumer’s beverage of choice, Coca Cola,with its distinctive yellow caps, for Passover. You no longer need to settle for Saratoga Geyser and the syrup as there are aisles of kosher for Passover beverages, not to speak of the vast collection of great tasting wines.

The kosher certification agencies, led by OU Kosher, have stepped up their game in raising the standards for kosher. Perhaps it is out of a recognition that most Jews are extremely careful about what they consume over Passover. Many of the Passover products nowadays, including the bulk of the machine matzoh products, are also produced in Israel. For the estimated 125,000 Jews who will spend the holiday at Passover programs this year, including at many world-class resorts, they will certainly find very little lacking.

In case your supermarket doesn’t stock the thousands of new kosher-for-Passover products, including OU Kosher kitniyot (food that is leavened or has a leavening agent such as wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye), you need only visit one of the independent kosher supermarkets such as Pomegranate, Seasons, Evergreen, Gourmet Glatt and more. They have the space to stock the thousands of Passover items and often create special kosher-for-Passover tents and annex(pop-up) stores. In recent years, even mainstream supermarkets have cleaned out major aisles to offer an extensive line of Passover items. You’ll also find the items at discounters such as Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart.

New Snacks, Recipes and Dozens of Websites
I am always fascinated by the continued growth of two categories that I felt deprived of while growing up. One is the ever-increasing number of snacks that are made kosher for Passover. Yes, you can pick your favorite potato chip. You can now find an entire aisle of kosher snacks, unheard of a few decades ago. The second category is dessert, particularly pastries. It seems that almost every favorite type of cake is now made for Passover.

Most fascinating is the growth of what I call the “home chef” for Passover. There are dozens of websites that include hundreds of magnificent meal ideas for Passover. Most of the major Jewish newspapers and magazines feature special supplements on cooking for Passover, transforming homemakers into gourmet Passover chefs. In addition, there is the takeout option.

Passover remains the most widely observed holiday on the Jewish calendar. It is estimated that as many as 70% of American Jews participate in at least onePassover seder. It has also become a holiday where there is a great deal of cross-fertilization with even many churches and other organizations hosting model seders. It is quite fascinating to hear from retailers how many non-Jews prefer the matzoh. Salesof machine made matzoh in 2018 will exceed $90 million even though hand-made matzoh continues to gain at a pace of approximately 15% a year. One need only observe the volume of calls that are received by OU Kosher during the weeks and days before Passover.

With approximately 300 additional items for this coming Passover, you are likely to find something new to enhance the holiday. At last year’s Kosherfest, Manischewitz won the best new kosher-for-Passover product with its Matzo S’mores. If you are looking for something exotic and out of the ordinary, this will not be the year for the introduction of the –now standard –kosher pizza or bagels, but keep your eye out for a surprise or two, or three, or…

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Menachem Y. Lubinsky is founder, president and CEO of Lubicom Marketing Consulting, a full-service public relations, advertising and marketing firm since 1984. Although his marketing expertise has spanned many industries, he is widely known for his role in the growth and development of the kosher food industry. In 1989, he founded Kosherfest, the first-ever trade show for foods that are kosher certified, with just 69 booths and 700 visitors. In 2016, Kosherfest featured close to 400 booths and well over 7000 visitors.