Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food

Roger Horowitz. Columbia Univ, $35 (304p) ISBN 978-0-231-15832-9
Horowitz’s engrossing, in-depth book explores how modern food manufacturers get their food labeled as kosher, which effectively allows observant Jews (and the growing number of shoppers distrustful of the quality of their nonkosher food) to eat it. He touches on themes of tradition, identity, and assimilation. With the greater reliance on mechanization in the 20th century, determining whether foods and drinks were kosher met a host of new challenges. Coca Cola, previously deemed kosher, was an early litmus test for the Jewish community when concerns arose in the 1930s about whether it was kosher for Passover, which requires a stricter standard. The old way of determining the matter (rabbinical conference) had to give way to the importance of scientific knowledge of the chemical processing utilized to manufacture Coke and the value of that data in reaching accurate, updated conclusions. Even more debates raged about Jell-O, because the key ingredient of gelatin, derived from animal bones, may not be kosher. These decades-long arguments took place between Orthodox and Conservative Jews, revealing deeper rifts and decidedly different ideas about what being Jewish meant to each. Although the subject matter might seem bizarre or needlessly complicated to outsiders, Horowitz provides a fascinating window into a rarefied world. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-231-54093-3
Show other formats
Discover what to read next