December 20, 2010

The New Families and the Old Families of Kosher

Lost in the aisles upon aisles of booths at Kosherfest was a group of exhibitors who you might say were the anchors of the show and icons of the kosher food industry. Despite mergers, acquisitions, and the demise of many brands over the last decades, there were the families that helped shape the kosher food industry. At the Kedem booth, there was David Herzog, his nephew Nathan Herzog and David’s son Mordy. Despite its meteoric rise, the family flavor has been very much retained. At the Streit’s booth, descendants Aaron Gross and Aaron Yegoda were showing off many of heir new products as they take the Lower East Side Matzoh manufacturer to a whole new level. Morris Setton still greets passersby with his fresh almonds, pistachios, and other nuts. Aba Klein of Klein’s Ice Cream had three generations of Kleins in his booth. Who would have believed that the kosher ice cream company would be producing 300 different products, some in conjunction with large food manufacturers. The Klein’s of Oh! Nuts were also represented by two generations of Kleins. There were many other families who we have come to love and respect over the years.

The newest family that is also hoping to build a legacy is Montreal businessman Hershy Friedman, who acquired the bankrupt Agriprocessor and has in recent weeks been applauded for the quality of his Aaron’s Best products. Mr. Friedman was an instant celebrity at the show, despite a long history of being a successful businessman and generous philanthropist. There were other kosher notables in the aisles like Rabbi Yehuda Perl, who has successfully taken Sabra hummus mainstream. One notable absence was speed-painter Morris Katz, who was a fixture at the show almost from its inception, and who is suffering from an undisclosed illness. Get well soon, Morris. We really missed you!