5 unexpected products at Kosherfest 2021
By Julia Gergely | All photos of Julia Gergely
(New York Jewish Week via JTA) – “Honey, I think I might have a buyer! A man in a black suit shouted into his phone, pacing his 10 ‘x 10’ booth displaying dozens of kosher bottles of South African wine. “But we have to move now.”
Kosherfest, the world’s largest certified kosher produce trade show, returned to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey this year, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. From restaurateurs and tour operators to hotel chains and supermarkets, “every type of kosher decision maker will find opportunities and inspiration at Kosherfest,” according to the event’s website. The show is co-produced by Diversified Business Communications and Lubicom, and Kosher Today, a trade magazine.
Over 300 different exhibitors made the trip to Secaucus this week, all vying for the opportunity to present their products to the biggest names in the kosher industry. Some vendors have gone for flashy displays, decorating their stands to look like a real bakery counter or cafe. Some vendors, like the venerable Flaum Appetizing of Brooklyn, have instead chosen to showcase the breadth of their products, offering an impressive array of samples including pizza slices, pasta, hummus, dips and cheese. In addition to food, there were stalls for supplements, tableware, and plastic utensils.
If the food itself doesn’t get the point across, a brand’s spokesperson will. Some companies even hire outside people to promote their products for the two-day event.
Chanie Engel, who could be found at the Mehadrin Dairy booth this year, used a microphone to grab the attention of festival-goers. She has worked on various booths at Kosherfest for the past 15 years. “They are fighting for me,” Engel told New York Jewish Week, lowering his microphone. “I’m the best.”
While pushing the Gevina Farms Greek yogurt, she chats with the participants, guessing their accents. “You’re from Dallas,” she said to a man. “You’re from Midwood,” she said to another.
Her friend, Dina Tocker, represented the dairy stand – until Engel was hired, that is. This year she went to Fleishig (meat), holding the fort of KJ Poultry in Monroe, New York. “I don’t even need a microphone,” she said. “I’m strong enough without it.”
Although Kosherfest was smaller this year – Covid-related travel restrictions meant limited international presence – Tocker was happy to see that many companies had survived the ‘It’s nice to be back’ pandemic, she declared.
Although it may be a large business convention, basically Kosherfest resembled a Jewish gathering. And, as with any Jewish gathering, it seemed like most of the attendees were there to eat. So we did. Food samples were both plentiful and varied, from kimchi and gelato to Slivovitz. And while much of the price is what you would expect – pastries, cold cuts, and kugel – here are five of the most interesting Kosherfest items that you might soon see at your local kosher supermarket.
Bee water turns an age-old remedy for a sore throat – honey – into a prepackaged drink packed with vitamins and flavors. There are five different flavors to choose from, including blueberry and cinnamon, and an organic range along the way. It tastes like bottled Rosh Hashanah which you can enjoy all year round. A varied 12-bottle pack currently sells for $ 35.99.
Ben’s best kosher cold cuts
Gone are the days of wondering what prosciutto, bacon or chorizo tastes like. After working at a leading kosher restaurant in Paris, French chef Benjamin Lapin has spent years researching and developing 100% kosher beef-based charcuterie recipes. Although Ben’s Best is based in Florida, kosher shoppers can order online and have their cured meats shipped anywhere.
Good Raz Vitamin D3 Drops
With standard time on our doorstep – hello, sunset at 4:45 am! – it is important to get extra vitamin D wherever you can. Winner of Kosherfest’s Best New Product in the Health & Wellness category, Good Raz (pronounced “raze”) has developed tasteless, odorless, water-soluble vitamin D3 drops to put in your morning coffee or water. It’s good for kids who don’t like to swallow pills, and the water-soluble technology means it will be absorbed into your system faster than pills, the manufacturer claims. One bottle costs $ 19.99 and lasts 4 months.
Cary & Main Maple Kosher Cream
Traveling from St. Johnsbury, VT, Cary & Main brought a taste of Green Mountain State with their maple cream, a delicious creamy maple spread that is pareve (no meat or dairy) . The spread can go on toast, crackers, baked goods, or even eaten straight from the jar (which costs $ 18.75). There are two varieties, Golden and Amber, and both are “handcrafted by artisans in a small town in Vermont as quaint as you imagine,” according to their website.
Cannabidiol or CBD infused products have taken over the food industry in recent years, and the kosher industry is no different. Tauriga Sciences, a life sciences company based in Wappingers Falls, New York, returned to Kosherfest this year with six different flavors of Tauri-Gum, a chewing gum infused with CBD or CBG (cannabigerol), both not. intoxicants and supposedly reduce inflammation and relieve stress, among other health benefits. Fun fact: Influencer and activist Adina Miles-Sash, known on Instagram as FlatbushGirl, is the brand’s marketing director. An eight-piece pack goes from $ 17.99 to $ 22.99 depending on flavor, with subscription options available.
Main photo: The KJ poultry stand draws a crowd on day one of the two-day Kosherfest show in Secaucus, New Jersey on November 9, 2021 (Julia Gergely)