A Peek Inside the Kosher Bakery
When we think of Jewish baked goods which are now mostly kosher, the list typically includes challah, babka, rugelach, bagels, mandelbrot, apple cake and black and white cookies. How did they become known as Jewish baked goods? While there are no definitive answers, we can provide some information.
In the early 1900’s, during the migration of immigrants to the Lower East Side of New York, challah became a ritual item that transplanted Jews craved to remind them of the homes they left behind. Even when they were poor, there was challah on the table on Shabbat. Other baked goods such as babka, bagels, rugelach and mandelbrot were delicacies shared in their home countries in Eastern Europe. There, they were enjoyed by all, not just the Jewish community. However, once the immigrants came to New York and began baking up these favorites, they became known as “Jewish baked goods,” as they are known today. Many of these baked goods, particularly bagels and black and white cookies, are also considered “New York” baked goods. This is likely due to the large number of Jewish residents in New York. But the love of these baked goods is far beyond the Jewish community. Who doesn’t love challah, babka, rugelach, bagels and the rest of these kosher baked goods?
Interestingly, the emergence of the kosher certification did not occur until later in the 20th century. Before then, consumers were satisfied knowing that if the ingredients were kosher—or atleast didn’t include anything traif (unkosher)—they were satisfied.