Barton's kisses, Passover
Bartons Chocolate Pops. Bartons Almond Kisses. Do you long for these and other iconic Passover favorites made by Bartons Chocolate? They exist because of the March 12, 1938 Nazi accession of Austria (Anschluss) when Stephen Klein fled Vienna for his life. A Nazi competitor had seized Klein’s chocolate company. He hurriedly left his two children and pregnant wife behind, spent five months in Belgium, ultimately able to reach the US. Within months he brought his young family to New York, later to be joined by his five brothers and two sisters. From the small New York apartment that he shared with ten family members, he concocted chocolates catering to the varied tastes of the local ethnic neighborhoods. Relatives sold the sweets from pushcarts. Commenting on his product, Klein knew which chocolates to blend and how to control taste. As he put it, “All the pieces should look good—no chazerei  [junk]….”

As he molded his successful American company, Bartons Bonbonniere, it in turn aided other World War II refugees. Bartons Brooklyn’s headquarters housed an office of immigration for assisting with the technical details of bringing over displaced Jews. His company hired many of those approximately fifteen hundred individuals.. While the payroll included Orthodox Jews, it was a very pluralistic, multi-ethnic work line. No strikes disrupted the flow of chocolate and there were no complaints about closing on Saturdays. Employees were allowed to eat as much chocolate as they wanted. Klein furthered the work of the American Orthodox relief agency, Vaad Hatzala, originally established to rescue rabbis and yeshivah students. It eventually expanded to assist all Jews during World War II. The Vaad sent packages of religious articles, food, clothing, household goods, and Bartons chocolate through Tangier to Nazi-occupied countries.

Barton inside front cover
Klein educated his chocolate adoring public by packing games and Jewish holiday stories into his chocolate boxes. Bartons also initiated kosher-for-Passover lines which included items like Matzah Balls, chocolate covered coconut or marzipan. Even the seasonal Santa Clauses and Easter eggs were kosher. Though the Klein family sold this charitable immigrant start-up in 1978, Passover Kisses and other Kosher for Passover Bartons products can adorn your menu again this year.


Ten Teaspoons of Sugar in My Chocolate?

by D. Prinz on February 26, 2015

The recently released revisions of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Health bring the conversation about sugar circling ‘round the measuring cup. These warnings against more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar a day boil up questions about nutrition. Surprisingly, just a century ago, nutritionists touted the benefits of sugar, especially candy.
In her book Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, Samira Kawash unpacks the recipes for today’s sugar addictions. Popular food prescriptions for the early 20th century dished out that “Candy is a nourishing and sustaining food.” Professor John C. Olsen of the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC in 1910 served up the idea that candy and chocolate, “contain all the four chief food elements, fats, carbohydrates, proteins and mineral salts and have a higher calorific value than fish, meats, vegetables and fruits.” He frosted his argument for this diet, “Any vigorous adult could make a good breakfast on these chocolate creams and peanuts. … A person living on candy could feed himself on 50 cents a day easily.” The equivalent caloric amount of eggs would cost much more, $1.84 a day.  Scientific American similarly fed the public sugar in its issue of July 28, 1917, wrapping the healthiest and the cheapest together.
Candy replaced food. Boxing champion Willie Richie in 1914 declared, “I never let a day go by without eating 12 or 15 sugar lumps or a large quantity of mild chocolate or other kinds of candy.” Cadbury still sells its “Lunch Bar” of peanut, caramel, wafer and chocolate. Klein’s also sold a “Lunch Bar.” Goo Goo Cluster of the 20’s and 30’s were advertised as “A Nourishing Lunch for a Nickel.” A “Graham Lunch” offered a peanut butter and graham cracker sandwich dipped in chocolate. Tootsie Rolls were marketed in pocket sized tubes marked “Lunch.” In 1923 the Sperry Candy Company of Milwaukee launched the Chicken Dinner candy bar.
How lucky I am that my preferred dark chocolate means less sugar in my chocolate.


Adventures On the Chocolate Trail: Atlanta, Portland, Seattle

January 31, 2015

In my recent travels speaking about On the Chocolate Trail, I have been able to sample some unusual chocolates and related products. Consider these: Atlanta:     From Chef Brulee amazing colors make the bon bons and the matzah very appealing.   *Chocoley  A source for making chocolate creations, including molds, compound chocolate , kits, utensils […]

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It’s Chocolate Season

November 30, 2014

Chocolate season started on November 1 for Joanne and Jerry Kryszek’s company, Chocosphere. This is the busiest time in their on-line chocolate wholesale and retail company which operates from a warehouse in a Portland suburb. I have known about the company for years and finally had the opportunity to meet the Kryszek’s and see their […]

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Chocolate Signals

September 12, 2014

The Trappistine nun appeared to levitate as she welcomed us at the factory door with urgent questions about how to market chocolate for Father’s Day, about aspects of kosher certification and about increasing their Chanukah sales. Sister Christa-Maria, in her Bavarian tinged English, broke the Benedictine prohibition against speaking to give us a tour of […]

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Can’t Live Without Chocolate?

August 22, 2014

  It seems a given that many of us depend on chocolate. Everywhere I speak about On the Chocolate Trail (Jewish Lights), people confess: “I can’t live without it.” And they want reassurance that the popular headlines about chocolate’s health advantages are true. Whether my body temperature slowly melts a mouthful, or, I am chomping […]

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Smiley Chocolate

June 13, 2014

We hit the mother lode. This chocolate factory came to us from Columbia, unlike the others we were fortunate to trek to in Belgium, England, France, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland. To be precise to the David Zwirner gallery near the High Line in Chelsea. Oscar Murillo’s performance art installation, A Mercantile Novel, mashes up […]

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Saluting Military Chocolate

May 26, 2014

  Memorial Day recalls the tangible and serious sacrifices made by members of the US military. Chocolate has played a part in that here, as well as in Israel and Britain. When I came across these stories as I was researching On the Chocolate Trail, I was surprised at how important chocolate was for both […]

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Think Chocolate in Preparation for Passover’s Discussions and Eating

April 12, 2014

Several publications picked up my pieces about chocolate and Passover recently — Huffington Post, Jewish Journal and Jewish Telegraphic Agency — and I share them here, along with A Haggadah for a Socially Responsible Chocolate Seder and related rabbinic texts from responsa literature: A Haggadah for a Socially Responsible Chocolate Seder (free download!) This Haggadah […]

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Chocolate Love Lessons for Valentine’s Day

February 5, 2014

Love lessons pulsate through Denise Acabo’s chocolate shop, A l’Etoile d’Or, Montmartre, Paris. Baby-faced Denise, who may be in her 80’s, has tended to customers and chocolate for the last 40 years costumed in her braided hair and school-uniform kilt skirt. Against the backdrop of her carefully curated chocolate offerings, she preens for the camera: […]

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