Brooklyn…Herring is one of the comeback kosher foods of the 2000’s. Once thought to have been discarded into the dustbin of history, herring has emerged as a strong seller in the modern kosher food world, increasing annually by as much as 40%, according to some retailers. Celebrating its 100th year, the famed Flaum’s brand which began as an appetizing store on Lee Avenue in Williamsburg has rolled out a series of herring products that are named after several legendary Eastern European Chasidic and Yeshiva movements such as Kotzk, Volozhin and Breslev, each known for their respective traits of sharpness, wit, and sweetness with the herring mimicking these virtues.
Herring has come a long way from what the late kosher food historian, Gil Marks (Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, 2010, John Wiley & Sons) categorized as either pickled, Schmaltz or Matjes as being the primary herring products eaten by Eastern European Jews. Marks noted that Jews and the Dutch were the prime merchants for the herring which became a basic staple for the poverty-stricken Jews of Eastern Europe. Today Flaum’s sells more than 15 varieties of the herring including Swedish Matjes Herring, Lox Tidbits in Cream, European Matjes and more.
“Naming our herring products after the legendary movements of Chasidus and the Yeshiva movement puts these foods in a context of continuity and heritage,” said Hershey Grunhut of Flaum’s. Indeed, historians point out that herring was a basic staple in the courtyards of the Chasidic movements. Another brand in the kosher marketplace, the Rebbe’s Choice includes Jalapeno Matjes Herring, Honey Mustard Sriracha Herring, and Smoked Zaatar Herring amongst others, also a far cry from the original herrings.