Everyone has a favorite cheesecake, or so it seems, say manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers preparing for the annual onslaught of the pastry. As the only Yom Tov that traditionally involves at least one dairy meal, Shavuos is an exclusive event on the Jewish calendar. Some retail stores and web sites selling the cheesecake are predicting an increase in sales of some 15% – 20%.
“I wish I knew the answer as to why cheesecake has become the primary Shavuos food!” said Jane Moritz, owner of the Challah Connection & Kosher Gift Box. “Personally, I prefer blintzes and noodle pudding and think that they are more in line with ‘Jewish’ culture. But perhaps cheesecake has emerged as the dominant food since it is more mainstream American and there are many folks who prefer this.”
Moritz runs a Connecticut-based online gift company, specializing in kosher items for Jewish holidays and events. Kosher Gift Box doesn’t make its own baked goods, but rather purchases products from the finest kosher bakeries and ships them to customers nationwide. Although in a typical week it sells less than 10 cheesecakes, Kosher Gift Box expects to sell between 60 and 80 of them in the next two weeks, with the bulk of orders coming in the week prior to the Yom Tov. The Kosher Gift Box offers cheesecake in the following flavors: plain (most popular), marble, turtle, strawberry, chocolate liqueur marble and sugar free plain; all are OU certified.
Some stores sell as many as 300-400 cheesecakes in just a 48-hour period before Shavuos. The Continental Kosher Bakery in Los Angeles offers a unique twist on the standard cheesecake – no dairy. The parve bakery employs six full time bakers and serves the San Fernando Valley. It makes tofutti cream cheese coffee cakes and pies special for Shavuos, when it sells several hundred. A representative from the bakery pointed out that their parve delicacies “enable kosher consumers who are lactose intolerant to celebrate Shavuos just as other Jews do.”
Now, even an allergy to dairy can’t keep one from observing the Yom Tov in true form. Ann Feurer, a diabetic from Long Island, generally stays away from all pastries with the exception of Shavuos. “I have not missed cheesecake for most of the 48 years I have been on this earth.”