December 20, 2010

A Walk Through Memory Lane at Kosherfest

Kosherfest is always an exciting time of year for me. It is like attending a family “simcha” where you get to catch up on things with family members, take note of how they may have changed physically and enjoy the friendly and cordial environment. This year’s Kosherfest was no exception, but I couldn’t help but notice how much has changed in the 21 years of the show. Some of the companies that had large pavilions back then were gone, either having been acquired by other kosher purveyors and distributors or who have passed into oblivion. Exhibits that back then were at best primitive were today fully designed booths, a far cry from the pipe and drape and not much more. The food mix seemed to have changed as well. There were several booths of gefilte fish, kugels, stuffed cabbage, chopped liver and the food you would find at a traditional Shabbos table. Today, it was gourmet noodles, sushi, exotic sauces, new snack items and so forth. And who cannot be impressed by what happened to kosher wines, thanks in large measure to the Herzog family.

For two days I got to shake hands and “shmooze” with hundreds of visitors from all over the country. Most were complimentary in nature, some with some “brotherly” advice, and still others trying to figure out how to take advantage of the lucrative kosher market. I also couldn’t help but notice many long-time exhibitors who chose to take a sabbatical from having a booth at the show. Perhaps for them the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” saying will encourage them to return in 2010. Several of the exhibitors sponsored private receptions for buyers who came from more than 25 states in what has really become a family “simcha.” Yes the family has indeed grown larger, more prosperous, and more contemporary. In this case a walk down memory lane is not to reminisce of what once was but to bask in the glory of just how fare we’ve come.