AS WE WELL KNOW, gefilte fish is the prototypical Jewish food, occupying a respected place in Jewish households, particularly for Sabbath and holiday meals.
Yes, Jewish comics have joked about gefilte fish, but seemingly always with warmth, given their recognition that this tasty and much-beloved food has been such an important part of their diet – and even their heritage. And of course, they remember their grandmothers slaving over the stove preparing homemade gefilte fish for those very special occasions.
Not surprisingly in this era of labor-saving advances, modern manufacturing has brought about mass produced gefilte fish, mainly in cans and jars, but consequently loaded with chemicals and preservatives. People learned to accept the compromises in the jarred product.
Not all of them, though. With many consumers still unwilling to accept a watered down and less than pure version, and with many others accepting it only grudgingly, Abraham Koth and Benjamin Berger, owners of a small fish store in Monsey, New York, saw a great opportunity around 1977 and so founded A&B Famous Gefilte Fish.
By processing fresh gefilte fish and freezing the finished mix, A&B Famous Gefilte Fish was able to market a one hundred percent natural product, chemical and preservative free, that was every bit as tasty and fresh as the old fashioned homemade version but without all the time and hard work that was once required to prepare it.
Abraham and Benjamin, starting out in the back room of their little fish store, immediately committed their firm to high standards in the all-important areas of product consistency, freshness of ingredients and complete adherence to stringent kosher requirements. As a result, A&B Famous Gefilte Fish has enjoyed continual growth and is today the biggest manufacturer of frozen gefilte fish worldwide, selling its product through-out the United States, Israel, Canada, Belgium, England, Switzerland, Australia and beyond.
When Abraham and Benjamin started to explore the marketplace, they found a very strong demand for strict kosher certification. Further research revealed the Orthodox Union with its famous OU symbol to be the leader in providing the desired kind of supervision.
Today Abraham and Benjamin say with confidence that they made the right choice, because OU is still number one in the kosher world. Marketing a product that carries the OU symbol makes that product acceptable almost everywhere. The reverse is also true: they once tried to import a product and didn’t put the OU on it, and were simply unable to sell it.
Moreover, in today’s modern manufacturing world, even the simplest ingredients can present kosher questions. By turning to the OU to solve this problem, within a day or sometimes even less they get a straight answer to whether they can use that ingredient. And if they cannot use it — as in the case of a simple sweetener they once considered that even carried a cretin kosher symbol — the OU quickly told them no.
A&B Famous Gefilte Fish owes its success to the vision and foresight of Abraham and Benjamin, but in very great part to the OU as well. OU certification opens doors in homes to them worldwide — and when your product is gefilte fish, if those doors don’t open, you are out of business.