Guys, Passover starts tonight — have you binge-eaten enough bread this week? Passover is a holiday based around tradition; there are things we do each year because our religion specifically instructs us to (like drinking the wine in a reclining position), and there are things we do because it’s just the way our family has always done it (like watching “Rugrats Passover”). No matter how you choose to commemorate the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, it’s awfully likely that you will be consuming a Manischewitz product of some kind in the coming week or so. In the interest of science, I have taken it upon myself to review all of the products listed on Manischewitz’s website, and rank them in order of importance, deliciousness, and general necessity. L’chaim!
* I couldn’t find all of the products listed on Manischewitz’s website at my local Hasidic grocery store, so I opted to cast judgement on them anyway. My judgey Jewish ancestors would be proud of this decision.
** Also I skipped a couple of things, like canned corn and tahini, which are probably fine. Sorry.
Passover is one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar — a time we celebrate by eating absolutely disgusting dessert foods. The only Passover-appropriate food that is so delicious I’d actually eat it any other time of the year is macaroons, those gorgeous coconutty cake bites full of magic and rainbows. I haven’t eaten anything with eggs in over a decade, but I admit to still drooling a little when I think about these macaroons. Manischewitz boast fifteen different kinds of macaroons (all gluten-free), including pistachio orange, red velvet, rocky road and cappuccino chip, but the obvious winner is the classic chocolate.
Obviously we are going to be talking a lot about matzo ball soup and the elements within here, but let’s take a minute to talk about mandlen, Passover’s version of soup nuts. They’re basically the best. Obviously you’re eating matzo ball soup for the matzo balls, but the mandlen absorb the broth perfectly while still maintaining their chewy integrity. During the festive meal, I admit to keeping a small amount of these on hand to eat dry, because they don’t even need soup. The soup needs them.
3. Matzo Meal / Matzo ball Soup Mixes / Chicken Broth
As a young vegetarian, I would break once a year for my grandma’s matzoball soup, and to this day I regret nothing. Matzo ball soup is a perfect food, easily veganized, and apparently now available gluten-free. I don’t know what a gluten-free matzo ball is (maybe just a sphere of air?) but I’m glad Passover is making an effort to be more inclusive, I guess.
Falafel is delicious, in case you were unaware. If I’m being honest, I prefer to keep the Trader Joe’s pre-made ones in the freezer and heat them up at will, but hey — if you’re willing to make your own from scratch or a mix, I respect you for your obvious commitment. Somehow, despite being made of chickpeas and matzo meal, these dudes still aren’t kosher for Passover, which makes no sense. LET ME LIVE.
5. Dried Fruit
There is really nothing bad I can say about dried apricots, and your grandparents are probably pretty stoked about dried prunes.
Did anybody else go to a Hebrew school that made them sing a song that went, “I like matzo, matzo, munchy crunchy matzo, I like lotsa lotsa lotsa… matzo” or was that just me? Matzo is a really fun novelty the first or second night of Passover, and then by the end of the holiday your insides have dried up and stopped working and you feel like you’ve been living on wallpaper paste. Passover hasn’t started yet, so I have only rosy, positive feelings about this particular product. Manischewitz offers several varieties, including gluten-free, spelt and organic matzo. Despite all of these innovations, all of your sandwiches will break in the wrong places and your PBJ will probably spill jelly down the front of your shirt.
7. Chocolate Seder Plate
I was actually super pissed when I couldn’t find this at my local Hasidic grocery store, because it’s a fucking seder plate made out of chocolate. Every year I try to convince my friends or family to do something really weird for this year’s seder, like making everybody dress up as different items off the seder plate (I want to be the bitter herb), but this is even better. I don’t even care that it’s weird Manischewitz chocolate — this rules.
Coins made out of chocolate. No complaints. A little worried about this Star of David-headed pirate(?!?!) grinning at me from the box though.
9. Apple Sauce
There’s not a damn thing wrong with apple sauce, but I’m not sure I trust Manischewitz to even get this one right. Has anybody had it? Is it full of secret matzo crumbles or what?
10. Potato Starch
I’m not saying I’d eat a heaping spoonful of it by myself, but potato starch is a solid substitute for cornstarch or even egg. Good for you, potato starch.
I mean, there’s nothing bad you can really say about candles? Burn responsibly. This is probably the closest I’ll get to neutral about anything on this list; it’s all downhill from here.
12. Soup Mixes
To be honest, if you’re going to make soup from a mix like this, you might as well just make soup from scratch, you know? This is halfway between prepping your own ingredients and opening a can. All of these flavors sound like things your grandparents would be enthusiastic about, like “lima bean and barley.”
13. Egg Noodles
They’re noodles. They go in soup. Why do they have to have egg in them? Nobody knows. They made them without gluten, why can’t they make them without egg? They do come in alphabet shapes, though, if you’d like to make your soup slightly more educational.
If you’re trying to eat kosher-for-Passover biscotti, you’re doing it all wrong.
15. Frolic Bears
They’re just creepy-shaped lollipop bears made out of chocolate, but something seems a little off about these dudes. The name is the most unsettling part. I wouldn’t want to run into any of these guys in a dark alley, but they’re not as gross as say, honeycake.
16. Chocolate Matzo
You can’t fool me, chocolate matzo. I know there’s matzo under there. Would you dip a slice of bread in chocolate and call it dessert? What makes you think you can get away with such nonsense?! You should be ashamed of yourself.
I don’t want to rain on your parade, but I may as well tell you that these marshmallows are made with kosher gelatin, which comes from fish. You’re eating fish marshmallows. Have a nice day.
The only farfel I really have experience with is the matzo kind, which seems to just be matzo crumbs thrown haphazardly into soup. I’m not sure this counts as a separate food, and I’m not about it.
Borscht: It’s Not For Everyone.
I didn’t know Manischewitz even made this, but it turns out they even make sauces for it! You can’t eat this for Passover, but you could probably buy a box and wait for a night when you feel the need to eat your feelings, and inhale a whole box of couscous while crying alone in the dark. I mean, this looks tasty. What?
21. Potato Pancake Mix
Latkes are delicious, but this is the wrong holiday. Strangely, they are listed as Kosher for passover anyway, and come in bougie flavors like garlic and rosemary. I dunno, serve these at your seder I guess? Go nuts.
I don’t like stuffing. Maybe you do. This kind is matzo farfel-based, so you know it’s extra flavorless. You could stuff your matzo with this stuffing and make an incredibly bland turducken.
23. Mandel Cuts
My sweet great aunt Gert used to periodically make mandel bread or mandelbrodt, basically an almond biscotti for Eastern European Jews. They were incredible, and although she was happy to share her recipe, nobody in my family has ever been able to replicate them perfectly. Manischewitz tried to make them, and theirs are made with matzo meal and cashews instead of almonds. Fail.
24. Potato Kugel Mix
As if you weren’t already eating enough super-dense, impossible-to-digest food at the seder, here’s a solid block of matzo meal and potato. You’re welcome.
25. Cake Mixes
At last we’ve arrived at honeycake. Passover desserts are an especially foul novelty. You know how gravity is really different on other planets, like how your weight is 2.54 times your normal weight on Jupiter? That’s what eating honeycake feels like.
They made it in a wasabi flavor and I still won’t eat it.
27. Chanukah House
You guys know that Chanukah isn’t even a gift-giving holiday, right? Like it’s incredibly not a big deal on the Jewish calendar, and we’ve been dressing it up as an alternative to Christmas for far too long. This is just one step closer — gingerbread houses, but made out of vanilla cookies. Have some self respect.
28. Potato Chips
Were you worried about having BBQ kettle chips that were certified kosher for Passover? Manischewitz’s got you, boo. At press time, there appeared to be no matzo involved in the creation of these chips.
29. Tam Tams
Yeah, I read Tim Tams at first too, and got really excited. Australia has these delicious textured chocolate biscuit things, and finally the Jews have them too — oh wait, no, they’re just little crackers. They’re not kosher for Passover though, so Manischewitz also came up with “Passover crackers,” which — let’s be serious — are just tiny matzos.
30. Cotton Candy
You and I both know that pre-packaged cotton candy is always weird and kind of flat. You may as well just buy yourself a cotton candy maker and have at it. You’ll be a hit at parties.
31. Pancake Mix
Who are you people trying to make kosher for Passover pancakes? Get the hell out of here.
32. Rice Cakes
I didn’t know Manischewitz even made rice cakes, but here we are. They’re made out of kosher for Passover rice, which seems sort of impossible — there are only five grains technically allowed on Passover, because they can be made into matzo (wheat, spelt, oats, rye and barley). There’s plenty of debate about whether or not rice is OK to eat during Pesach, but face it — you’re already eating a whole lot of tasteless, crunchy carbs this week. I can’t say I’d be terribly excited to see a rice cake by day 4 or 5.
33. Peanut Butter
The ingredients on this peanut butter are just peanuts and sugar. Isn’t there supposed to be an oil? Is this real?
This cereal is straight-up terrifying:
First of all, our Star of David-headed friend is back, but now he’s a magician? And this is clearly some sort of Kosher ripoff of Cookie Crunch or something like that, but these just look like tiny discs of flavorless garbage, covered in ants. A quick glance at the ingredients confirms that the flakes are mostly tapioca starch and potato starch, with a little sugar and cocoa powder thrown in — a tiny bit of fiber, but barely any vitamins to speak of. Also available in Froot Loops ripoff, or chocolate Froot Loops ripoff.
35. Jell Bars, Truffles, Lollycones, Caramel Cashew Patties, Peppermint Patties, etc.
I’m looping all the chocolate confections in here: truffles, lollycones, caramel cashew patties, peppermint patties, but most of all those absolutely fucking inedible raspberry jell bars. First of all, the name drives me nuts — is it a play on The Bell Jar? In theory, they should be delicious, a splash of chewy raspberry-flavored goo inside a crisp chocolate exterior, but once you bite into it, everything goes wrong. It’s like biting into a decorative soap. Whoever decided this was an acceptable form of dessert was a sadist of the highest order. If anyone ever offers you one of these items, escape immediately; this person is trying to kill you.
36. Fruit Slices
Nobody likes these. Whoever came up with these sugary globs of pure misery went to a whole lot of trouble to get out of just eating a slice of a real fucking orange.
37. Gefilte Fish
When I was a kid, I read a book in my Hebrew School library called “The Carp in the Bathtub.” It’s about a bunch of kids in a Brooklyn tenament whose mom buys a carp with the intent of turning it into gefilte fish; since the markets are almost always out of carp by the time Passover rolls around, she buys this one early and keeps him in the bathtub. The kids end up growing really attached to the fish, and beg their parents to let them keep it. I don’t actually remember how the book ends, but I would way rather have a carp in my bathtub than a slimy ball of gelatinous goo. I recognize this is an unpopular opinion; my brother seriously eats gefilte fish all year long, but clearly my brother is gross.
Manischewitz boast six different flavors of traditional kosher wine (elderberry, cherry, blackberry, extra heavy malaga, concord grape and medium dry concord), all listed on their website with boastful descriptions filled with phrases like “bursting with flavor” and “generous mouthfeel.” I was probably about 15 or so when my parents decided it was OK for me to sample the wine at our family’s seder, and I barely made it through one sip before spitting it all out and reverting back to sweet, sweet Kedem grape juice for the rest of the foreseeable future. Don’t ever do this to yourself if you don’t have to.