by Joseph Berger – New York Times
For generations, the name Manischewitz was practically synonymous with kosher foods and wine.
No Passover Seder seemed authentic without its square-shaped, ripple-faced matzo and a shot or more of the syrupy Concord grape wine that many find cloying yet nostalgic. And its slogan — “Man, oh Manischewitz” — was broadcast so ubiquitously throughout the years that it was even referred to on an episode of “Mad Men.”
“For me, putting Manischewitz on the Seder table is like using Yiddish slang in everyday conversation,” Samantha Corbin once wrote in an article for the web magazine Brokelyn. “It’s a celebration of cultural Judaism, a Judaism that can be observant but liberated from religious gravitas.”
But Manischewitz has undergone major shifts. It sold its wine division to what is now Constellation Brands in 1987. It has seen more and more of the kosher market go to its competitor Kayco — the manufacturer of Kedem wines and distributor of most other brands of kosher wine, as well as a bevy of foods. And standard American labels like Wise potato chips have had their foods certified by rabbis as kosher.
Then this week Kayco, formally known as the Kenover Marketing Corporation, announced that it had reached an understanding with the Manischewitz Company to acquire its panoply of products. Those include Manischewitz’s matzos, still the nation’s best-selling brand by far, as well as other foods, and beloved labels like Rokeach and Mother’s. The company’s portfolio will be trimmed down to its Season brand, known for sardines that are popular with nonkosher consumers.
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