It was a tough year for the polling industry. Since the presidential election Nate Silver has been persona non grata north of the Mason-Dixon line and no one born after 1995 knows what a landline is. Nevertheless, the iconic Manischewitz Company, sponsor of so many of our first drinking experiences, put a nation’s raging debate to a poll: how do you spell “Hanukkah”?
Using the online Harris Poll company to scour the country for opinionated Jews (appropriately, it only took two days to collect adequate data,) the poll asked 2,171 Americans aged 18 and older (including 112 Jews) to pick their preferred spelling for the winter holiday from four options. They were as follows:
The poll found this: two-thirds of Americans spell the holiday name “Hanukkah,” which is also what the Forward style guide dictates. The next most popular spelling also begins with an “H,” “Hanukah.”
People who identify as Jewish are more likely to use one of the “ch” spellings, suggesting the signature Jewish hairball sound that we all know and love (well, it’s nice when Gal Gadot does it.) “Chanukah” with one “k” and “Chanukkah” with two “k”s got eight percent and five percent of the vote respectively, but Jewish Americans prefer one “k” while non-Jews favor “kk.” (No surprise that the tribe wants to stay away from double “k” — more than one “k” in a row is asking for trouble, in this Jew’s opinion.)
The idea for the poll originated when the Manischewitz company realized that even as an exclusively kosher company they had no uniform “Hanukkah” spelling for their products. “As the largest marketer of Kosher foods in North America, we thought it would be both fun and festive to have Americans weigh in to help us to determine what the preference actually is,” CEO David Sugarman said.
Whether you were with the majority of Americans, or the majority of American Jews, or neither, no need to be to smug: always remember, the correct way to spell “Hanukkah” is in Hebrew.
Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny