Manischewitz isn’t just for your bubbe anymore
You might associate Manischewitz with painfully sweet wine in a square bottle, or perhaps with the Passover coffee cake mix your bubbe makes every year and the tin of coconut macaroons in her pantry.
You probably don’t think of an irreverent brand that jokes about making weed brownies kosher for Passover. And yet, at least on Twitter, Manischewitz spent Passover offering up funky new flavor ideas, including “Hash Brownie Macaroons: the Highlight of Passover.” In the replies, the kosher brand has snappy clapbacks, and jokes about telling other employees — Shlomie and Rochel Leah — how popular the new horseradish macaroons are.
Most recently, Manischewitz went viral promising a new product for July 4: gefilte dogs.
It all started when viral Jewish account, Jew Who Has It All, which spends most of its time satirizing Christianity from a Jewish perspective, decided that hot dogs are “gefilte beef.”
Manischewitz jumped into the comments, affronted. “We’re gonna set the record straight here. Hot Dogs are nothing like Gefilte Fish. GFish is made of the highest quality, freshest fish….hot dogs? Who knows,” they tweeted. Moments later, the idea for gefilte dogs was born — and everyone had an opinion. It quickly went viral, and Manischewitz was ready with smart-alec replies.
Please, don't mess with the Weather Laser. We have it set for a July Fourth full of sunshine. Perfect for grilling up #GefilteDogs.— Manischewitz (@ManischewitzCo) June 23, 2022
It turns out that Manischewitz outsources its social media know-how — and all of its advertising — not to Shlomi or Rochel Leah but to Joseph Jacobs Advertising, a long-standing agency that specializes in the Jewish market; they even originated the Maxwell House Haggadah. (The founder, Joseph Jacobs, used to work at the Forward.) Manischewitz has been a customer for half a century.
Elie Rosenfeld, the CEO at Joseph Jacobs, was blasé about the genesis of the gefilte dog. “This time of year hot dogs are hot and gefilte fish isn’t top of mind for many people in June,” Rosenfeld said. “Gefilte fish is a product that people generally love — but don’t like to admit that they like.”
Rosenfeld, who has 20 years of Jewish marketing under his belt, explained to me that, on Instagram and other platforms, Manischewitz largely keeps to more traditional fare, such as enticing pictures of recipes featuring Manischewitz ingredients. But on Twitter, there’s more room to experiment, and they do their best to jump on opportunities to show personality and connect.
Of course, Manischewitz doesn’t want to lose its bubbe roots, but Rosenfeld doesn’t see jokes about making weed edibles for Jewish holidays as overstepping tradition or losing the bubbe vibe. After all, what bubbe doesn’t love a good joke?
“Speak to every Jewish family you’ve ever met, that goes on around the table,” said Rosenfeld. “Twitter is just a really really big Jewish family holiday table. There’s always the uncle, there’s always the aunt or even the grandfather who is making the jokes in the corner, and there’s always the grandmother saying, ‘Saul! Don’t say that, the grandchildren are here!’”
It helps, of course, that each suggested product comes with perfected Jewish details, such as the promise that the gefilte dog factory will work hard cranking out BBQ food 24/6; of course, it has to close for Shabbat.
While a few people on Twitter don’t seem to get the joke and have complained that the new flavors sound gross, most people seem to find Manischewitz’s sassiness lovable.
And maybe I’m the one out of the loop. “So just to confirm,” I asked Rosenfeld at the end of our chat, “these gefilte dogs, they’re just a joke — they’re not not going to actually exist?”
“Or they might,” he replied.