Adapted from JTA
Nothing seems so Jewish as a box of Entenmann’s cake or cookies. “All of the Jews I know bought Entenmann’s,” wrote Nancy Kalikow Maxwell in her 2009 book Typically Jewish.
The bakery earned a place in Tablet magazine’s list of “100 Most Jewish Foods,” 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, “When someone opened up an Entenmann’s cake, a knife went into the box and didn’t come out until the cake had died.”
Yet, the family that opened the bakery on Long Island and expanded into supermarkets across the country wasn’t 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 launched the bakery in Brooklyn in 1898.
Charles Entenmann was known as a shrewd businessman and inventor, who focused on engineering and technical aspects of Entenmann’s, according to Newsday. One of the company’s innovations was see-through cellophane packaging, which let shoppers preview what kinds of cakes, cookies and danishes they were getting.
The Entenmann’s reputation as a “Jewish” brand owes much to its adoption, in the 1980s, of kosher certification from the Orthodox Union.
Ironically, Charles Entenmann didn’t indulge in his own products. “I’m going to tell you something that’s been pretty much a secret,” his son, also named Charles, told Newsday. “He didn’t eat Entenmann’s cake. He just wasn’t a dessert guy.”
Most of us are though, and whether it was at a Shabbat morning kiddush or classroom or office party, we’ve all had — and enjoyed — our share of Entenmann’s. On the occasion of the passing of Charles Entenmann, we thought we’d ask you: What’s your favorite Entenmann’s?
Update: Two Other votes have come in — Marshmallow Devils Food Cake and Chocolate Chip Brownies.