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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Cookies and Culture

As many of you may know, the Oreo cookie turned 100 years-old today.  Out here in LA, the birthday celebtration included an appearance by Lady Antebellum at the Grove (insert snide East Coast comment here).  

I myself am an Oreo enthusiast - an obsession I tie to the fact that Oreos only became kosher in 1998 (an event I remember quite vividly).  In any event, I wanted to pass along a thoughtful post on the Forward's website by Jeffrey Yoskowitz titled "Cookie Chronicles: Oreos and (Jewish) Identity."  In the post, Yoskowitz briefly explores the tension between group identity and cultural acceptance through the prism of the kosher certification of the Oreo.  While I'm not quite sure if I agree with the sentiment at the end of the piece, his last two paragraphs did - pardon the pun - provide some food for thought:

I remember in those early Oreo years feeling as if soon I would be able to relate to the TV commercials in which grandparents sit down with their grandchildren, passing down the “time-honored” tradition of twisting and then dunking cookies in milk. I wanted to dunk Oreos with my grandparents, even though they already practiced a far richer Eastern European dunking ritual often involving tea and honey cake or tea biscuits, usually as they shared their tales of survival during the Holocaust with me.

Sometimes I miss those pre-Oreo Judaism years, when our food options were slightly more limited, but our collective sense of self seemed more in tact. I miss Hydrox too, if only for what the cookie represented: a time when American Jewish identity could be wrapped up in something as simple as a cookie we could or could not eat.

Posted by Michael Helfand on March 6, 2012 at 07:55 PM | Permalink


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