Charles Entenmann was not Jewish. But the Jews considered her cakes and cookies to be part of the family. – The Front

(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Nothing seemed as Jewish as a box of cakes or cookies from Entenmann.

“Every Jew I know has bought Entenmann’s,” Nancy Kalikow Maxwell wrote in her 2019 book, “Typically Jewish.”

The bakery earned a spot on Tablet magazine’s “100 Most Jewish Foods” list, with an essay by TV producer and foodie Phil Rosenthal singing the praises of their chocolate-covered donuts.

Jodi Luber, who runs a Jewish food site, once wrote that “when someone opened an Entenmann cake, a knife went into the box and didn’t come out until the cake was dead.”

And yet the family that opened the bakery on Long Island and expanded to supermarkets across the country were not Jewish. Charles Edward Entenmann, the family patriarch who helped make the company a national brand and who died Feb. 24 at the age of 92, was the grandson of a German immigrant who started the bakery in Brooklyn in 1898.

Charles Entenmann was known as a shrewd businessman and inventor, who focused on the engineering and technical aspects of Entenmann, according to Newsday. One of the company’s innovations was see-through packaging, which allowed shoppers to preview the types of cakes, cookies, and danishes they received through a cellophane window.

The company’s factory in Bay Shore, Long Island would grow from five acres in 1961 to 14 acres in 2014, Newsday writes, before Warner-Lambert bought the company for $233 million in 1978. Charles, who moved to Florida, was known for his support. health care, environment and the Great South Bay YMCA, which he helped found.

Entenmann’s reputation as a “Jewish” brand owes much to its adoption of Orthodox Union kosher certification in the 1980s. The company tapped into a market for budget-friendly baked goods for Jewish families and hosts – Stella D’Oro’s all-dairy alternative to parve, or non-dairy, cakes and cookies.

Sonya Sanford, writing in The Nosher, remembers Entenmann’s products as one of her Jewish family’s non-homemade indulgences. “With good regularity, my father would come home with a rectangular white and blue box in his hand, the cursive ‘Entenmann’ logo prominently displayed,” she wrote. “Price and kashrut may have been the reason my dad first bought a cake from Entenmann, but it’s unlikely that was the only reason we kept eating their pastries. “

In 2002, the OU newsletter celebrated Entenmann’s and another adjacent Jewish brand, Thomas’ English Muffins, in an article declaring both “a kosher tradition”. In 2018, news of the company’s acquisition by Bimbo Bakeries USA sent shockwaves through the kosher preservation world: Bimbo said it would remove kosher certification from breads made by Arnold, Sara Lee, Stroehmann , Freihofer’s and other brands acquired in the agreement. Entenmann’s and Thomas’, it turned out, would remain kosher certified.

The kosher symbol also assured people following a halal and vegetarian diet that there was no pork or other animal products in the recipes. “Entenmann’s success has highlighted a previously underestimated phenomenon: the impact of kosher symbols extends far beyond the Jewish community,” wrote Gil Marks, in his “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.”

Charles Entenmann moved to Florida in the mid-1980s, founding a medical technology company that focused on wound sealing. He was buried surrounded by friends and family last week at Oakwood Cemetery in East Quogue, New York.

“I’m going to tell you something that’s been pretty much a secret, most of my life anyway,” her son, also named Charles, told Newsday. “He didn’t eat Entenmann’s cake. He just wasn’t a dessert guy.


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Charles Entenmann was not Jewish. But the Jews considered her cakes and cookies to be part of the family.

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