why are chocolate chips such a big deal?

In case you haven’t heard, there’s been a huge hullabaloo here in the states about Trader Joe’s trading in their status of favorite store of many observant Jews due to the change in the status of their chocolate chips. They used to be certified kosher pareve, which meant that they could be used for either meat or dairy dishes, but due to stringency on the part of the kosher supervising company, they’ve now been certified dairy, even though they still don’t have dairy in them. It’s a bottom line bottom-line thing. Cost. They can’t wipe down the equipment between runs anymore like they used to. Well, they CAN, but…

So now we have to see if they can because the cri de coeur is so deafening.  After all, not only was there a petition sent all around through change.org, but it made the Wall Street Journal today. As always, the comments were telling. One person pointed out the value of the pareve status for those with dairy allergies. Their lives literally depend on that. Of course, I know that those who are in that position also find out when dairy is really not dairy at all, such as Oreos. So who’s willing to be the guinea pig on this one? I guess someone with a lesser reaction, but I wouldn’t want to play that part. I like playing it safe.

Some complained about religious nonsense and much ado about nothing. And that’s perhaps true, except that, after all, this is a business paper addressing a business issue.  So whether there’s a value or not to the issue, it makes sense for them to investigate.  And after all, if we wouldn’t dare object to the restrictions of Halal for the Moslems (as much as it’s become politically correct to make fun of the Mormons and their food restrictions–see this article, if you’d like, about their issue with coffee), then we should be honestly accepting of all faiths’ food taboos and limitations.

And yet…

Why is it such a big deal?

Yes, they’re tastier and less expensive than other brands. That’s not a little thing. But it’s only chocolate chips, after all.

So why?

I think it’s because we like to be normal. All we’s. We who keep kosher, we who have allergies, we minorities of unseen things. We like to be able to go to a regular store and buy our things and pretend, for a moment, that we are all the same.

Of course we are. Really.

One of my favorite things that happened a few years back was going into a Trader Joe’s when travelling through the middle of California and finding kosher wine. We had to take the main highway while travelling from San Francisco to LA due to the wild fires along the coast. Really–the middle of nowhere!

And not the not-so-good-though-kosher wine that they sell now, but Herzog wine! Now that’s convenient luxury! We bought a whole bunch of bottles, for sure, just to show our appreciation.

Is it the luxury of convenience or the convenience of luxury?

But being able to buy our little luxuries makes us all on the same level. And that’s a good thing. We need to be able to know that capitalism is the great equalizer.

Or it could be, all things being equal.

But they’re not. And so those in charge are making us understand our limits.

So what am I going to do?

Make brownies instead of blondies.

And hope that I can keep things in perspective.


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