The End of a Chicago Tradition
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As I mentioned a few weeks back, this week will see the end of several great Chicago kosher deli brands (Best’s Kosher, Wilno, Sinai, and Shofar) by the parent corporation Sara Lee.
There’s a great article in today’s Chicago Tribune about the end of this legacy, penned by Susan Berger, whose family owned Oscherwitz Kosher until they sold it to Sara Lee.
Hot dogs. Corned beef. Tongue. Pastrami. Bologna. By the end of the month, the company that my great-grandfather Isaac Oscherwitz started in 1886 will close. Best’s Kosher Sausage Co., was family owned for more than 100 years. In 1993, Sara Lee Corp. acquired Best’s Kosher. Mike Cummins, a Sara Lee spokesperson, said of the closing: “It was not because it’s not profitable—it’s just not where it needs to be.”
This is a loss not only for my family, but for the millions of Jews who keep kosher and the many millions who don’t but learned to love my family’s hot dogs.
My great-grandfather emigrated from Germany. On his way to Ellis Island, he met Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz. Rabbi Manischewitz asked Isaac to go into business with him. But my great-grandfather had five sons and said he needed to go it alone. They both landed in Cincinnati. Isaac started Oscherwitz’s (later changed to Best’s Kosher and moved to Chicago) and Rabbi Manischewitz started his matzo and wine business.
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