new york | Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Oreos. M&M’s. These are some of America’s favorite sweets that have come under kosher certification in recent years.
It’s not just desserts.
Campbell’s Soup, one of the oldest and most noted food manufacturers in the country — remember Andy Warhol’s famous prints? — announced this week that its condensed Vegetarian Vegetable Soup is now certified kosher by the Orthodox Union.
The first cans bearing the OU kashrut symbol, Campbell’s first kosher soups, rolled off the production line in August at the firm’s plant in Maxton, N.C., and will appear on store shelves in the Northeast this month. Nationwide distribution will begin in December.
More kosher soups may be coming, say Campbell’s officials, if the first cans sell well.
“We’re really looking to make our soups available to a wider consumer base,” said Campbell’s spokeswoman Julie Mandel Sloves.
Campbell Soup Co. entering the kosher food field serves as another milepost of Jewish life in the U.S., reflecting both the buying power of kosher-observant Jews and the eagerness of non-kosher companies to gain a foothold in the kosher world.
Supermarkets across the country carry the thousands of kosher items, from appetizers to entrees to desserts, under the supervision of the OU and a score of competing kashrut supervision agencies.
Other Campbell products, including Pepperidge Farm cookies and Godiva chocolates, already are under OU supervision.
“Offering a kosher soup is another important step toward meeting the rising expectations of our consumers,” said Jeremy Fingerman, president of Campbell’s U.S. soup division.
“It says a great deal about what was considered to be a relatively exotic religious requirement” a few decades ago, said Steven Bayme, national director of contemporary Jewish life at the American Jewish Committee. “The kosher food industry has found a niche within mainstream American culture.”
The sale of kosher food to observant Jews is augmented by the products’ acceptability to religious Muslims and other consumers who consider a kashrut certification a mark of purity.
While some consumers may try Campbell’s “out of curiosity,” and its label carries a certain panache, it won’t necessarily harm the sales of smaller, kosher-only firms like Manischewitz or Rokeach, Bayme says.
“The effect won’t be felt immediately. Buying habits are not that easy to break,” he said.