Worth Considering

In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

But is it good for the chews?

By Andrew Silow-Carroll

The return of Goldenberg's and putting "passing" in the past

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I’ve always felt a little proprietary about Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. Years ago, when I interned at the Jewish federation in Philadelphia, baskets of the candy were placed on the tables during fund-raising drives, a gift of the local family that owned the company. I was thrilled, and not only because I am lactose intolerant and the chews (until they changed the production method a few years back) were labeled pareve — dairy-free.

I also got a kick out of the idea that a national candy brand had such a distinctively, defiantly Jewish name. Eating a Peanut Chew, I wasn’t just enjoying a sticky, bite-sized morsel of peanuts, molasses, and chocolate — I was representing.

So I took it a little personally when Just Born, the company that bought the brand from its Philadelphia founders, decided in 2004 to drop the “Goldenberg’s” name from the front wrapper. As New York Times advertising columnist Andrew Adam Newman explained , “A new wrapper introduced in 2004 not only significantly changed the logo and color scheme, but also removed the historically prominent ‘Goldenberg’s,’ which was thought to sound too homespun for a national player.”

Too “homespun”? Please. Perhaps no one at Just Born admitted that the name sounded “too Jewish,” or perhaps Newman was being coy. But you have to suspect that someone was thinking it. And not that there is anything wrong with that. I suppose if I were trying to bring a mostly regional brand to national prominence, I would play down the Jewy, play up the chewy. Hell, an entire generation of Jews did just that. That’s how Cohen became “Cooke,” “Kent,” and “Cole.” And why so few people remember Issur Danielovitch’s macho star turn in Spartacus.


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The beauty of the candy story, however, is that following the loss of the “Goldenberg’s” name, sales of Peanut Chews tanked! Newman reports that customers complained of “bootlegged” versions that were in fact genuine. In response, the company is putting “Goldenberg’s” back on the package and rolling out “an advertising and marketing campaign that celebrates its heritage.”

The irony! A few weeks ago I obtained my mother’s discharge papers from the U.S. Navy, where her maiden name appears as Naomi “Green,” not “Greenberg.” She served as a pharmacist’s mate (that’s a rank, wiseguy) in World War II, and I remember her telling me that she’d been advised by Jewish friends to play down her “heritage.” A similar consideration led my grandfather and his brothers to change their eccentrically spelled Polish surname to “Carroll.”

Nearly a century later, a candy company realizes that a Jewish name can move product. Hollywood’s most bookable artists have names like Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogen, Jason Schwartzman, and Sacha Baron Cohen. And I often find myself thinking my own “brand” might get a boost if my last name were more Jewish.

In 2009, essayist Ron Rosenbaum rapped Jon Stewart for having changed his name from “Leibowitz,” calling the change a “relic of that dark age when Jews in show biz changed their names because they feared ‘real Americans’ wouldn’t accept the originals.” Rosenbaum’s essay, written almost 20 years after the debut of a sitcom called Seinfeld, was about a generation too late.

None of this Jewish back story is discussed in Newman’s story about Peanut Chews, and that’s too bad. The religion and media site “Get Religion” often talks about “ghosts” — that is, religious themes in news stories that are somehow ignored or unnoticed by the reporter or publication. The Peanut Chews story is positively haunted. Consider: A new commercial for the candy features an Asian man who, after taking a bite of the candy, transforms into a tracksuit-wearing hip-hop fan, circa 1985. In a thick Asian accent, he declares that the candy is “off the hook.” The commercial ends with the new campaign’s tag line, “Chewin’ it old style.”

Jewish candy. Asian actor. African-American fashions and slang. This kind of ethnic mash-up can’t be unintentional. It sounds like someone at the ad agency, trying to reintroduce a product with an unmistakably “ethnic” name, wanted to emphasize that crossing religious and racial boundaries is perfectly acceptable in buying a candy bar. It’s how Levy’s rye bread joked its way out of the baked goods ghetto in the 1960s, with ads featuring Native Americans and Asians and the famous tag line, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish rye.”

The return of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews doesn’t exactly signal the end of anti-Semitism, but it does suggest that we’ve left behind what Rosenbaum calls the “shabby, antiquated era” when Jewish success depended on one’s ability to “pass.” (Not that America, for all its freewheeling multiculturalism, has solved all its intolerance issues — good luck selling a candy called Mahmood’s Peanut Bites.)

In the case of Goldenberg’s, let’s call it progress that a major company thinks a Jewish-sounding name has gone from liability to selling point. As for intolerance — isn’t it time that they brought back the “pareve” Peanut Chew?

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JWR contributor Andrew Silow-Carroll is the editor in chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, where this article first appeared.

© 2012, Andrew Silow-Carroll