I just read an article Deconstructing Chocolate Gelt by Leah Koenig which traces the adoption of chocolate coins into American Hanukkah celebrations. She writes:
Along with playing dreidel, frying latkes and lighting menorahs, gelt and gift exchanges solidified Hanukkah’s appeal as a bright spot on the long, dark stretch of calendar between the high holidays and Passover, as well as a significant celebratory parallel to Christmas.
Hoping to capitalize on the blossoming interest around Hanukkah, American candy companies like Loft’s first introduced gold and silver-wrapped chocolate gelt in the 1920s. Rabbi Debbie Prinz, who is researching the historical connections between Jews and chocolate, said that these companies may have drawn their inspiration from the chocolate coins (called “geld”) given to children as part of the St. Nicholas holiday throughout Belgium and the Netherlands in early December.
The article also notes something that has bothered me recently: the chocolate coins I've had are waxy and not very nice to eat. Last year I bought a whole box with something like 20 of the little mesh bags of coins. This year, I passed up several opportunities to buy them. They just aren't that good.
Oh my goodness. I remember those mesh bags of coins. I had no idea they had anything to do with the Hanukkah celebration. When I was a young girl we had a family friend named Sam Hockman. (funny I remember his name:) When we went to my grandmother's house on Sundays, he would show us how to fold newspapers into all sorts of shapes; boats were my favorite. He use to play magic tricks with us too. One of the tricks was when he would mysteriously "pull" chocolate coins from our ears. LOL
Thanks for sharing, Mae. I would love to do a post about Hanukkah someday but I'm afraid I could never do justice to such a sacred Holiday.
Good to hear from you about this and the Joy of Cooking bio. Actually, Hanukkah is one of the least sacred holidays in the Jewish calendar. It was a very minor festival before Jews assimilated into American life and needed a parallel holiday to Christmas. Maybe you could get some of your Jewish readers to do a guest post on it if you decide to include it in your celebrations -- it does have quite a few food related traditions.
That's a GREAT idea Mae. I've been thinking about investing in a good Jewish Holiday cookbook. Any ideas? When my children were young they had friends who invited us to a Hanukkah evening in their home. I was so honored. Unfortunately, I remember so little about it. It sure seemed sacred to me. Thanks for the encouragement. I do believe I should give your idea a try some time next year. Thanks again...
I would recommend Joan Nathan's book(s).
Post a Comment