Rabbi Dovid Jenkins Speaks in the Kosher Sports Drink Arena

Some soft drinks enjoy kosher certification.

Spring and sports drinks are inextricably linked. It’s a time of more outdoor exercise calling for additional body replenishment. In North America, the sports drink market is burgeoning. One of the more well-known of them is OU koshercertified Gatorade, an account managed by Rabbi Dovid Jenkins. We talked to him about the greatest kashrut concern in producing Gatorade, what is meant by electrolytes, how Gatorade was founded and his own history where he ran other kashrut organizations.

Steven Genack: When did Gatorade join the OU?

Rabbi Dovid Jenkins: 2010

SG: How many Gatorade products do we certify?

RDJ: A few hundred.

SG: About how often do they come out with a new product?

RDJ: Well, the drink season is spring and summer, so they’re already preparing new products in the fall. But the truth is they’re coming out with new products all the time.

SG: What’s the greatest kashrut concern when it comes to certifying Gatorade beverages?

RDJ: Equipment. Before bottling the juices, they go through what’s called hot filling. The product is placed in a metal tank, heated, then sent to head fillers to be packed hot, then the bottles are sent through a cooler. It’s of utmost importance that no non-kosher material enters the tank. Of course, the ingredients and flavors must be certified.

SG: Gatorade beverages are known to replenish the body after a workout because they contain electrolytes. Can you elaborate on that?

RDJ: Electrolytes are mix of different minerals that keeps the body hydrated. Gatorade is mostly filled with these ingredients which hydrates the body before and after exerting a lot of energy.

SG: Do they have a Research & Development team that tests their drinks out on athletes?

RDJ: Actually, Gatorade was founded by a team of researchers at the University of Florida, under the guidance of Dr. Robert Cade. They were trying to remedy the dehydration problems that the football players were experiencing in the heat. They found that the athletes were losing a lot of electrolytes through sweat. The drink they created to combat this was called “Gatorade” based on the name of the football team, the Florida Gators, and the drink was ultimately acquired by a food and beverage company. So, in a sense you can say that Gatorade’s whole beginning was steeped in research.

SG: You have an extensive background in kashrut. Can you discuss that?

RDJ: I was in kashrut starting from 1984. In 1984 the “famous” OU mashgiach, Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Goldzweig got me involved in supervising an oil refinery in Jackson, Illinois. At the same time, I was a Rebbe in St. Louis. Then, from 1991 to 1996 I took over the OV kashrut organization. From 1996 to 2000 I headed the CRC. From 2000 to 2004, I worked for the Kof-K and from 2004 to 2008 I was in charge of an organization called Kosher Overseers of America, better known as the Half-Moon K, which was later acquired by the OU in 2008. I then moved to the OU in 2008 where I currently serve as an RC.

SG: We recently spoke to Rabbi Rabinowitz, Head of Kosher Wine and Alcoholic Beverages at the OU. You’re known to be a wine and liquor connoisseur. Do you have any favorites in those categories? 

RDJ: In terms of wines, I like the dark red Israeli wines. My favorite whiskeys are Scotch and American Rye.

SG: Finally – what’s your favorite Gatorade flavor?

RDJ: Cherry



Steven Genack
Steven Genack has worked at OU Kosher for more than ten years with a specialty in ingredients. He is an attorney and former editor of a newspaper. He has a wide array of interests including playing tennis, golf and basketball and reading biographies and memoirs.