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Why American Jews love Stella D’Oro cookies

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Why American Jews love Stella D’Oro cookies

This fragment within the starting establish appeared in The Nosher.

As a baby, visits to my maternal grandfather and grandmother (of Italian and Polish heritage, respectively) alive to eating loads pasta and pierogi. Dessert, in flip, used to be in most cases cannoli and poppyseed roll, nonetheless in total a platter of Stella D’Oro cookies — numerous dainty corrugated rings and logs of buttery dough with almond undertones. My grandfather had developed a taste for them early in his childhood as an immigrant from Genoa, and my grandparents’ pantry used to be never without as a minimal one package. Truth learn, my juvenile palate stumbled on the cookies too bland (i.e.: insufficiently sugary), nonetheless they held a different build in my heart because they had been a favourite of my beloved, in most cases salty, comparatively sweeter Pop-Pop. 

Early Newspaper

Till my 2d year in college, I connected Stella D’Oro (Italian for “superstar of gold”) completely with Italian-American culture. While “grocery” shopping within the 7-Eleven advance our dorm (hey, we didn’t hold vehicles, OK?) with a friend who moreover took build to be Jewish, I came upon a package and remarked upon my deepest nostalgic ties.

“Stella D’Oro?” he answered with a puzzled grin. “That’s a Jewish thing.” 

We preceded to dive into an as it shall be sophomoric argument about whether or no longer Stella D’Oro used to be “extra Jewish” or “extra Italian,” every of us buttressing our claims with mostly anecdotal proof and rumour, and entirely eschewing the extra absorbing demand of: What took build with these cookies that laid the foundation for such a debate within the first build? 

Stella D’Oro, as its name would possibly perhaps well counsel, used to be started in 1930 by Joseph and Angela Kresevich, Italian immigrants in Brooklyn. Already a hit restaurateurs, the Kresevichs further parlayed their meals business savvy by constructing a line of Italian-vogue cookies, crackers and breadsticks that appealed to different Italian immigrants missing flavors from house. The cookies, within the starting establish made by hand and without (gasp) butter, had been straight fashionable. 

The true fact that Stella D’Oro cookies had been devoid of butter as successfully as milk moreover led them to be an object of desire early on for non secular kosher Jews — they had been pareve and would possibly perhaps well therefore be eaten for dessert after a meat supper. The Swiss fudge vary, whose crimped circumference and inner opaque darkish chocolate circle bore a whimsical resemblance to shtreimels, round fur hats mature on the Sabbath, led them to change into severely fashionable within the extremely-Orthodox community. And when in 2019 Tablet published its mature list of the 100 Most Jewish meals, Swiss fudge cookies earned the title of “most Jewish cookie ever made.”

Huge charm, nonetheless, has no longer done without Stella D’Oro from turning proper into a field of controversy. As the business changed homeowners all the way via the years, wages and benefits had been diminished and/or altered, unsurprisingly souring family between management and its multicultural labor force, many of whom had worked for the company for a few years. This contentious ancient previous, and namely the 11-month strike that ensued following its acquisition by a hedge fund, is documented within the 2011 film “No Contract, No Cookies.” 

Maybe the supreme scandal passed off in 2003, when then-owner of Stella D’Oro, Kraft Meals, announced it used to be discontinuing the dilapidated (pareve) Swiss fudge recipe and changing the chocolate filling with a dairy model. Following public outcry, Kraft clarified this substitution used to be being “reconsidered,” at final reversing course. There used to be powerful rejoicing, especially by one superfan, Yaakov Kornreich of Flatbush in Brooklyn, who dubbed the cookies so “addictive” that “they must attain with a surgeon normal’s warning.”

Stella D’Oro aficionados (Italian, Jewish, both and neither) proceed to be extremely vocal of their opinions, and the company in flip has been receptive to the taste vagaries of its client public. In 2014, the beloved Girl Stella sequence used to be introduced out of its five-year retirement per client demand of. To commemorate the occasion, Stella D’Oro proficient loyalists with coupons at no price candies and donated 100,000 cookies to households in need.

So now that we’ve resolved why one can quibble as to whether or no longer Stella D’Oro is a “Jewish” or “Italian” thing, right here’s a a lot bigger demand of: Does it matter?

For me, an ardent lover of Jewish delicacies and proud Italian American, the cookies’ cultural and spiritual connotations are trumped by one thing extra principal: their characteristic in so many cherished family suppers.

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Why American Jews love Stella D’Oro cookies