Manischewitz Will get a New Look

I observed it out of the nook of my eye: One thing was completely different within the kosher meals part of my native Kroger. The acquainted containers of Manischewitz matzo (and matzo ball soup combine and macaroons) had a brand new look, and what a glance! Gone was the sleepy beige and blue of the earlier packaging; as an alternative was an arresting rusty orange, sprinkled with the harvest golds and sepia tones of a Nineteen Seventies kitchen. The impact was concurrently nostalgic and novel. It was just like the design-world equal of matzo ball soup: comforting, heat, inviting.

The definitive identify in matzo, Manischewitz was based in 1888 by Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz, an immigrant fleeing the pogroms of Prussia. Manischewitz’s massive innovation was to make matzos on an meeting line, bringing them into Jewish houses throughout the nation. Though the model has modified its look quite a few occasions over the previous 136 years, every replace was constructed upon the look that got here earlier than it. And whereas its newest look incorporates some earlier parts — a pop of orange has lengthy graced Manischewitz containers — this rebrand feels extra like a rebirth.

In sure circles, Manischewitz’s transformation has hit with the drive of a She’s All That-style makeover. “OMG THEY YASSIFIED MANISCHEWITZ,” screamed a submit on X (previously often called Twitter), which the Jewish meals website the Nosher shared on Instagram. The sentiment completely captured the rebrand’s vibe. The illustrated figures on the packaging are cute and charming — they could possibly be my pals! On the again of the matzo field, three well dressed generations collect round a seder desk, smiling and clinking wine glasses — they could possibly be my household! The kitschy Yiddishisms sprinkled throughout the packaging — “made for noshing,” “there’s bupkis prefer it” — drive dwelling the schtick. If the older iterations of Manischewitz’s merchandise (the rebrand touched all the pieces however the wine, which is owned by Gallo) seemed like they could possibly be reliably discovered within the dusty recesses of bubbe’s pantry, these new ones wouldn’t be misplaced in any TikTok-approved kitchen, proper subsequent to the Graza olive oil and Omsom noodles.

“The rebrand and new voice aimed to seize the essence of character, household, [and] love of meals, blended with witty observations and the head-of-the-table-type confidence Bubby would convey,” Joe Schott says through e mail. As senior copy editor at Jones Knowles Ritchie, the inventive company liable for Manischewitz’s new design, Schott was liable for creating the model’s verbal identification. “As soon as we began vocalizing that and discovering the components for a way Mani’z [that’s Manischewitz’s new nickname] would sound, it felt heat, inclusive, and vigorous,” Schott explains. “Like a cocktail party filled with spirited dialog that you simply wished to be part of.”

Just a few days after I observed Manischewitz’s new packaging I acquired a press launch about it. The language utilized by the model’s PR crew struck me as notably telling. Fairly than the standard rebrand track and dance, this felt extra loaded, like Manischewitz was trying to reintroduce not simply their very own look however kosher meals as a complete class: “Manischewitz is ready to make the kosher aisle a vacation spot for everybody, no matter their background or dietary practices,” the discharge learn. “Manischewitz merchandise are extra than simply meals objects; they’re invites to expertise and take part in Jewish tradition.”

The announcement ended with a quote from Shani Seidman, the chief advertising officer of Kayco, Manischewitz’s guardian firm: “Impressed by the inclusivity seen in manufacturers with different cuisines, Manischewitz seeks to turn out to be the emblematic gateway to Jewish tradition,” it learn partially. In different phrases: It’s Jewish meals for all.

However can a rebrand actually reimagine Jewish meals (or at the very least a really particular type of Jewish meals, particularly Japanese European Ashkenazi meals) in a manner that makes it interesting “for all”? Or is Jewish meals so steeped in its personal tradition and non secular customs that it might’t hope to maneuver past an viewers with their very own cultural ties to it? And who’re these non-Jews on the market shopping for matzo, anyway? Whereas different cuisines have discovered methods to maneuver out of the so-called ethnic aisle and into the so-called mainstream — see, for instance, the latest proliferation of Southeast Asian shopper packaged items (CPG) on grocery retailer cabinets — I’m wondering if we will count on the identical for Jewish meals.

Sure, Jewish deli tradition has loved one thing of a next-generation resurgence. However there’s a large hole in shopper enchantment between a pastrami sandwich and gefilte fish, and the artisanal rebranding of conventional Jewish meals like gefilte fish felt aimed primarily at coastal and/or city audiences already well-versed within the delicacies. Manischewitz, in contrast, goes for people throughout the nation, and most of its merchandise are additionally tied particularly to Passover; exterior of the vacation’s context, matzo is only a unhappy cracker.

Seidman says Manischewitz’s core shopper is an older Jewish one that grew up with the model at dwelling, however their new shoppers — the rebrand’s goal demographic — are the grandchildren of the unique viewers and, notably, their (not essentially Jewish) pals.

To enchantment to those new shoppers, “we went on a soul looking out journey,” Seidman says. “After we took the plunge of doing this, we went into the model identification and tried to determine what the model meant to the tradition.” The crew approached it from the angle of “this model is a gateway to Jewish tradition via meals,” she provides, echoing the press launch.

Different legacy Jewish meals manufacturers are hoping to discover a comparable gateway to, if nothing else, better grocery retailer actual property. Final 12 months, Joyva, the 117-year-old tahini and confection maker, launched a spruced up new look that additionally combines the retro and fashionable in an effort to straddle two completely different demographics.

“The brand new model identification is supposed to enchantment to each our legacy shoppers — the generational Joyva followers who affiliate us with household and custom — and model new shoppers,” Joyva co-president Richard Radutzky says through e mail. These new shoppers didn’t essentially develop up with Joyva, he provides, however are enticed by the “new, colourful, and welcoming packaging” to attempt the model’s new merchandise.

The underlying hope, one might say, is that the rising tide will elevate all ships. “As retail manufacturers like Joyva and Manischewitz evolve to achieve new audiences, it’s potential we’ll see an growth and development for Jewish CPG manufacturers simply as we’ve seen over latest years within the restaurant and meals service house, with locations like Russ & Daughters, Zabar’s, and Katz’s,” says Farrah Bezner, Joyva’s chief advertising officer.

Although Manischewitz’s rebranding course of started two years in the past, the timing of this launch feels vital. It’s a fraught time for a lot of American Jews, with antisemitism steadily rising because the 2016 presidential election and skyrocketing following the October 7 Hamas assault on Israel and the Israeli Protection Forces’s ensuing cruel conflict on Gaza, which has killed 34,000 individuals and counting, an estimated two-thirds of whom had been civilians. The Manischewitz crew knew Passover can be the perfect alternative for his or her launch, as a result of that is each prime matzo time and a second when Jewish tradition is being talked about extra broadly exterior of Jewish circles. However, Seidman says, the rebrand can also be taking place at a time, “when Jewishness may be very charged” — which, she provides, solely helps as an example the necessity for the model’s message of Jewish meals for all.

“We truly noticed a resurgence of Jewish satisfaction this 12 months particularly, and we really feel like that resurgence is inspiring individuals to make a matzo ball soup now for Shabbat, and so they’re gonna invite their pals who will not be Jewish to Shabbat dinner,” Seidman says. It’s one thing many Jews have finished for years, however the thought of opening Shabbat tables to non-Jews has turn out to be particularly prevalent inside the context of the pandemic, thanks partially to super-visible content material creators like Jake Cohen and Eitan Bernath.

Seidman hopes these non-Jewish pals will imply extra enterprise for Manischewitz, in fact, but in addition that they’ll encourage extra acceptance of and empathy for Jews. “I believe that loads of good can come out of sitting down and breaking bread with individuals and sharing one thing that’s very human,” Seidman says. “All of us eat. Everyone knows that meals connects us. It’s an enormous unifier.” The concept meals is a unifier has its sticky factors: It may possibly, in spite of everything, simply as usually be a supply of disagreement.

But when Manischewitz is hoping that Jewish meals may be shared by everybody, it additionally hasn’t overlooked its core Jewish viewers. Not too long ago, the model started offering care packages to Jewish college students on faculty campuses, the place antisemitism is of explicit concern. The outreach was the results of a longstanding partnership with Jewish campus organizations and a collaboration with JScreen, an Emory College-based genetic testing program.

“After I heard what was taking place on faculty campuses, I felt for these college students,” Seidman says. “Think about for those who’re at an establishment the place out of the blue you don’t really feel the assist you want. What we need to do is convey consolation, ship them care packages — the consolation of dwelling — and say, this model is supporting you.”

Seidman doesn’t know the way far a rebrand can go within the combat towards antisemitism, however says that inclusion is a step in the fitting course. “The Jewish individuals have been making an attempt to flee antisemitism for hundreds of years. And I believe what we’ve discovered is, even once we assume that we now have figured it out, it rears its ugly head,” she says. “What I’m hoping this model does greater than something is to reignite the satisfaction in our heritage and Jewish tradition in a really inclusive manner.”

Stephanie Ganz is a author and recipe developer whose work has appeared in BUST, Bon Appétit, The Kitchn, and Epicurious. She’s the writer of the Substack e-newsletter However Wait, There’s Extra.
Carolyn Figel is an illustrator and animator. She presently lives in LA along with her canine, Fred.

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