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The Schmooze

In America, Flavored Hummus Reigns Supreme

There is likely no food more iconic across the Middle East than the delicious and nutty chickpea, tahini, lemon and garlic puree that is authentic hummus. In Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and most other countries in the region, it is a crucial part of social, as well as food, culture, with each country producing its own variations.

But no variations stray as far from the classic ingredients (and are consequently as cringe-worthy to hummus purists) as the ones being put out by companies in the United States, like Holy Land. According to an article in today’s Dining section of the New York Times, the Minneapolis-based company produces 14 varieties of hummus including guacamole, cucumber, feta and later this summer a peanut butter flavor, which the company is pitching to the retailer Costco to sell nationwide.

“Back home, they would shoot me in the head for doing this to hummus,” Majdi Wadi, the chief executive of Holy Land, who hails from Kuwait and Jordan.

Hummus’s popularity among American Jews is nothing new, but the craze has finally spread to the entire country, according to the article: “Fifteen years ago, hummus was a $5 million business led by a smattering of companies. Today it…has more than $325 million in annual retail sales.”

While we appreciate America’s familiarity with hummus — if for no reason other than it allowed for one of the most entertaining scenes in Bruno — we think we’ll stay with the pure blends.

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