Manischewitz

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The Manischewitz Company
TypePrivately held company
IndustryKosher Foods
FoundedCincinnati, Ohio (1888 (1888))
Founder(s)Dov Behr Manischewitz
HeadquartersNewark, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Area servedNationwide
ProductsMatzo
Kosher Wine
Owner(s)Sankaty Advisors
Websitemanischewitz.com
rabfoodgroup.com
 
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For the band, see Manishevitz.
The Manischewitz Company
TypePrivately held company
IndustryKosher Foods
FoundedCincinnati, Ohio (1888 (1888))
Founder(s)Dov Behr Manischewitz
HeadquartersNewark, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Area servedNationwide
ProductsMatzo
Kosher Wine
Owner(s)Sankaty Advisors
Websitemanischewitz.com
rabfoodgroup.com

Manischewitz /ˌmænɪˈʃɛvɪts/ is a leading brand of kosher products based in the United States, best known for their matzo and kosher wine. Founded in 1888, it became a public corporation in 1923 and remained under family control until 1990, when it was bought out by a private equity firm. On April 7, 2014, Sankaty Advisors, an arm of private equity firm Bain Capital, bought the company from a group including investment firm Harbinger.[2] It is the world's largest matzo manufacturer and one of America's largest kosher brands.

History[edit]

Logo for Manischewitz Wine

The B. Manischewitz Company, LLC was founded by Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz, in 1888 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company built a second production site in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1932, to better serve the large Jewish community of the New York metropolitan area,[3] and the Cincinnati facility was eventually closed in 1958. In 1990 a $1 million fine was levied against the company for price fixing with its two main competitors at the time, Streit's and Horowitz.[4] The Company went public in 1923 and remained a public corporation until it was taken private in a management buyout led by Kohlberg & Company in 1990 for $42.5 million.[5][6][7] In 2004 its name was changed to R.A.B. Food Group, LLC and today is known as The Manischewitz Company.[3] Manischewitz remains the world's top matzo manufacturer and one of America's top kosher brands.[5] In the 1930s, in order to produce their products all year round, the company created Tam-Tam crackers, which are little hexagonal matzos, according to a recent book Manischewitz: The Matzo Family, written by the founder's great-granddaughter, Laura Manischewitz Alpern (though the modern Tam Tam is quite different from matzo). Their original product, the square matzo, revolutionized matzo-making, which until the family's production process, used to consist of rolling the matzo and trimming the edges by hand. It was also considered quite revolutionary to make matzos by machine.[8]

On June 14, 2011, a new 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) facility was announced. Located on 80 Avenue K in the East Ward of Newark, New Jersey, it would act as both plant and corporate headquarters for The Manischewitz Company.[9]

Foods[edit]

Potato latke made from Manischewitz brand mix frying in hot olive oil.

Manischewitz has revolutionized the way in which matzo is produced. By mass-producing matzos they turned the output of matzo-making from a strictly local product into a national, and eventually international product. Manischewitz matzos were also the first to feature uniform texture, taste, and feel. When the company first began shipping matzos they also decided to make them square, whereas before matzos had been consistently round.[7][10] Manischewitz's main innovation - making matzos with machines instead of by hand - aroused some initial controversy. Some rabbis of the era claimed that in order to be acceptable for religious use, the matzo had to have been made by a man and not a machine.[5][11] Manischewitz was ultimately able to overcome these concerns, in part by demonstrating the meticulous adherence to the halakha (religious rules).[11]

Manischewitz acquired Horowitz-Margareten Matzo and manufactures Goodman matzo. In addition to matzo, Manischewitz-labeled foods include cookies, pasta, and soups. Other well-known kosher brands associated with R.A.B. include Carmel, Elite, Mother's, Rokeach, Mrs. Adler's, and Tradition; many of these were acquired by R.A.B. after successful runs as independent kosher labels.[12] Kosher foods such as these are staples of many supermarkets in the United States.

R.A.B. is not involved with Manischewitz wine, however, except in name. It has, since 1986, licensed the Manischewitz brand name to the Manischewitz Wine Company, a subsidiary of Canandaigua Wine Company (now Constellation Brands).[13]

List of foods[edit]

Note: The Tam Tam cracker started out as small, flavored matzo, but was developed into a unique recipe not made of matzo dough. The Passover version is still an egg matzo cracker, but year-round Tam Tam production is not.

Wine[edit]

Bottle of Manischewitz
Manischewitz American Concord Grape

The Manischewitz winery is located in Canandaigua, New York, and has since 1987 been the property of Constellation Brands, which continues to license the Manischewitz name from R.A.B. Foods.[14] The Winery was founded by Leo Star and run by the Star family since 1927.

The Manischewitz winery is best known for its sweet concord wine, which is widely available in much of North America.[15] Made from labrusca grapes, its aroma is unusual, and is combined with a large amount of residual sugar.[citation needed] As concord was popularized over the years by U.S. media as being the kosher wine, it is often the wine used by non-Orthodox Jews in celebrating Passover. However, Manischewitz's sweet Concord contains corn syrup, a sweetener derived from corn, which is a food forbidden for Passover among Ashkenazi Jews (see Kitniyot for details on why corn is forbidden). Manischewitz produces special Kosher for Passover bottling of their wines, which are sweetened with cane sugar as opposed to the corn syrup used throughout the year.[16]

The sweetness of Manischewitz wine and other kosher wines is often the fodder of jokes. However, Kosher wine does not have to be sweet. One of the reasons for the prevalence of sweet kosher wine in the U.S., and in the Americas generally, dates back to the early days of Jews in America, when there was the need to locally produce kosher wine for the Kiddush ritual on the Shabbat and holidays. The combination of a limited choice of grape varieties that could grow in the areas where Jews had settled, along with limited time available to produce the wine and a market dominated by hard cider, yielded a bitter wine that had to be sweetened to make it palatable.[17]

Indeed, so well known is the sweet Manischewitz variety in the U.S. that the existence of a thriving kosher wine industry anchored by vineyards in France and Israel, along with a growing U.S. industry, is often a surprise to Americans unaccustomed to taking kosher wine seriously.[13]

Advertising[edit]

The company has used the slogan "Man-O-Manischewitz What a Wine!" for advertising. The company and this advertising campaign are fictionally represented in Season five of Mad Men as a new account.[18]

Popular culture[edit]

The band The Shekhels created an instrumental song called "Man O Manischewitz."[19]

Lauryn Hill raps about drinking Manischewitz wine in her song "The Final Hour" from her critically acclaimed solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

The astronaut Gene Cernan uttered "Manischewitz" as an exclamation while on the moon,[20] but his first words upon walking on the moon were not "Man O Manischewitz," as sometimes popularly claimed. His actual first words were "Jack, I'm out here. Oh, my golly! Unbelievable! Unbelievable; but is it bright in the Sun."[21]

Punk rock band NOFX mentions Manischewitz in their song "The Brews" from the 1994 album Punk in Drublic.

Punk rock band The Dead Milkmen also mentions Manischewitz in their song "I Dream of Jesus" from the album Not Richard, But Dick, which tells the story of a family which finds Jesus Christ in a bottle of Manischewitz.

On the 3rd season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in the episode "Lou's Place," Rhoda mentions Manischewitz elderberry wine, concord grape wine, and blackberry wine.

In the 8th season of The Simpsons, in the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase," Moe the Bartender references Manischewitz when he says "I'm sweet; I'm sweeter than Jewish wine." [22]

Manischewitz is mentioned by a main character Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) in Goodfellas (1990). Tommy makes a joke while out for dinner and drinks with his new Jewish girlfriend, her friend Karen, and Henry.

In the 6th season of Mad Men, in the episode "Tale of Two Cities," Manischewitz expresses dissatisfaction with the advertising work being done by Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and puts their relationship into review.

In the 1991 movie What About Bob, Bill Murray's character "Bob Wiley" carries his fish Gil inside of an old Manischewitz Gefilte Fish Jar, tied around his neck.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Verdon, Joan (June 15, 2011). "Manischewitz calls Newark a key ingredient in its growth plan". NorthJersey.com. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Sankaty Advisors, an arm of private equity firm Bain Capital, bought the company from a group including investment firm Harbinger.". nytimes.com. 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  3. ^ a b "Manishewitz - History". Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ Tregarthen, Timothy (1999). The Matzo Fix. Worth Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57259-418-0. 
  5. ^ a b c Lukas, Paul (2004-04-01). "Days of Wine and Matzos: How a Cincinnati family became the name in kosher foods.". CNN Money. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  6. ^ Martin, Douglas (2003-09-23). "Bernard Manischewitz, Last In Family Firm, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  7. ^ a b Alpern, Lara Manishewitz (2008). Manischewitz: The Matzo Family. ktav. ISBN 978-1-60280-003-8. 
  8. ^ The matzo family history
  9. ^ "Manischewitz Company Relocates Headquarters to Newark - a set on Flickr". Flickr.com. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  10. ^ Ginsburg, Johanna (2008-03-27). "A Manischewitz writes family history of kosher food giant". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  11. ^ a b Kahn, Bruce. "The Americanization of Matzah". Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  12. ^ "R.A.B. Food Group LLC". Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  13. ^ a b Howard G. Goldberg (March 23, 1994). "Manischewitz Only Sweet? Not Anymore". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  14. ^ "Manischewitz wine - heritage - history". Archived from the original on 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  15. ^ "Manaschewitz wine - mahalo.com". Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  16. ^ "Manischewitz wine - FAQ". Archived from the original on 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  17. ^ "The 11th Plague? Why People Drink Sweet Wine on Passover". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  18. ^ "Man-O-Manischewitz!". Cardcow.com. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  19. ^ "Man O Manischewitz"- The Shekhels' new hit single Retrieved July 17, 2012
  20. ^ "Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Journal - Loading the Rover". NASA. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Journal - Down the Ladder". NASA. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  22. ^ http://www.snpp.com/episodes/4F20

External links[edit]