Manischewitz Matzo Mishap

February 17, 2011

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Manischewitz Matzo Mishap

In the world of matzo, Manischewitz is a big name. But inside two boxes of their matzo that my mom and dad bought, they found a big surprise. I wrote The Manischewitz Company to share their story…

Dear Matzo Makers:

My parents recently opened a box of Manischewitz Matzos and found tiny black bugs crawling around in the cellophane wrapper. As you probably know, Jews aren’t big on bugs, which is why so few of us enjoy camping. They opened a second box and examined the matzos even more intensely than two dermatologists simultaneously screening for skin growths. Everything looked bug-free. But when they cracked the matzos they discovered colonies of those bugs crawling around in the crevices. How could this happen in two boxes for Christ’s sake?

They took the boxes back to the supermarket and told the manager, Mr. Rodriguez. I’m not sure how much matzo Mr. Rodriguez consumes in his diet, but my guess is that it’s unlikely he even has any on Passover. He said they were mealybugs and it happens all the time. Mr. Rodriguez gave my parents credit. I give them credit too for even being able to look at matzo again. All I know is that it’s a sad day when your mom tries to make Matzo Brei for your dad and it could end up being Mealybug Brei. What if my dad ate the matzo along with the bugs? Could he have ended up with mealy-mouth? Would he have gotten sick or is it considered bonus protein?

As the nation’s largest manufacturer of processed kosher food products, how can Manischewitz allow this to happen? Can you explain how matzos can’t get from the Manischewitz plant in New Jersey to Boca Raton, Florida without bugs, yet the Jewish people schlepped matzos around the hot desert for centuries without any reports of unleavened bread infestations? And you know if they had something like matzo bugs to complain about we would have heard about it immediately … and we’d still be hearing about it to this very day.

Eating is very important to Jewish people. And during meals we do a good enough job of bugging one another, so we don’t need any outside assistance. How did the bugs get inside the sealed wrapper?

A Customer Service Department Representative responded

Thank you for informing us about your experience with Manischewitz Matzo. For over 120 years we at Manischewitz have strived to maintain the highest kosher and quality standards in all our products. All of us at Manischewitz take a great deal of pride in serving our loyal customers and we want you to know that your comments are taken seriously.

We regret that you were disappointed with our product and our goal is for you to always be a satisfied consumer. Please accept the enclosed towards your next purchase.

Thank you for buying Manischewitz products.

Final Thoughts

While this corporate response may be sincere, the words contained about as much feeling as a clump of Gefilte Fish. There was no explanation about how this happened, whether it’s unusual, or what’s being done to prevent it from occurring again. There wasn’t even a mention of the bugs or what could be expected if they were eaten with a schmear of low fat cream cheese.

On a positive note, they also generously enclosed 5 coupons good for ANY Manischewitz product FREE UP TO $9.00. With up to $45.00 in coupons, that’s a lot of replacement matzo! Hopefully my parents won’t have to invite their exterminator over for lunch to enjoy it.

If you’re in the market for matzo, my parents still give 4 thumbs up to Manischewitz. Or as they say, “These things happen.” However, if you happen to open any food product and discover something is feasting on it before you, it’s time to Write The Company.

Update: August 9, 2010 — I received a second letter from The Manischewitz Company dated August 3 (just a few days after my post appeared) from the same Customer Service Representative. This time she requested additional information — store name, location and the variety of matzo purchased, which I was happy to provide. It is unknown whether Manischewitz saw this post and then followed-up again or whether someone else in the company saw the letter and asked Customer Service to look into it further. In any case, Manischewitz is taking responsibility and that’s a terrific sign!

Update: August 16, 2010 — Another letter arrived today. It was identical to the first response — other than a different date and “Thin Unsalted” after “Manischewitz Matzo” in the first sentence (the matzo variety I provided in response to the second letter). Another 5 coupons were even included. At first, I thought I was experiencing déjà ju. Then I remembered that many of my relatives also keep repeating the same thing over and over again. It is unclear whether this is caused by confusion or guilt. Either way, my parents should have enough matzo now to hold them over through Passover.

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