Covering the Spread

By E.B. Solomont

Published November 18, 2005, issue of November 18, 2005.
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On November 8, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg sailed into a second term, soundly defeating Democratic challenger Fernando Ferrer by close to 20 percentage points. However, it was not until a full week after Election Day that the mayor received his most flavorful endorsement.

On the first day of the 17th annual Kosherfest, held each year at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Sabra, a leading producer of Mediterranean dips and spreads, drew visitors to its station with a hummus bust of the triumphant mayor. The chickpea tribute may not be the spitting image of Bloomberg, but in the words of sculptor Kirk Rademaker, “with a little imagination,” it will do.

The Javits food expo, the largest event of its kind, drew 350 exhibitors and some 10,000 attendees this week, and foodies were not cheated when it came to gimmicks, samples and marketing tricks.

The Israeli candy company Elite, which has used a George W. Bush impersonator in its television ads, flew the look-alike to New York to pose with show attendees. The Israeli dairy company Tnuva — which had at its station a 200-pound plaster cow — created a minor sensation with a freebie sponge doll. Pizza-bagel purveyor Maccabee doled out tens of thousands of mini pizza bagels and mozzarella sticks. Competition for attention was fierce, and with good reason: With sales topping $10 billion in 2004, kosher food is big business.

But as is always the case when demand is huge and supplies limited, tempers can flare. Amid the lines for crepes, chocolates, knishes, sorbet and wine, a food fight broke out. People were going about their business, according to one observer, “and the next thing you knew, black bean sauce was flying.”

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