Kosher Food Producer Manischewitz Sold To Bain Capital

fromWNYC

Manischewitz has been bought by a unit of the private equity firm Bain Capital for an undisclosed amount. The new owner wants the 126-year-old brand move beyond its niche on the kosher shelves.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Tax day is coming. So is Passover. It starts next week. And here's some news that may come up around the Seder table, Manischewitz, reportedly the world's largest Matzo maker, has been sold.

Reporter Ilya Marritz of member station WNYC reports that new management wants to broaden their product's appeal.

ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: If you want to find Manischewitz products, go to the kosher foods section, like in this Manhattan supermarket.

I see jars of borscht, there's jars of schav, of course, there's gefilte fish and then right at the bottom, Manischewitz matzos available in several varieties - there's unsalted, egg and onion, whole wheat, everything matzos.

Manischewitz' interim CEO, Mark Weinsten, wants to end this supermarket segregation.

MARK WEINSTEN: We make a really good tasting chicken soup. It, I think, frankly, tastes a lot better than many of our competitors' product. Well, why not sell that in the ethnic foods aisle?

MARRITZ: Ditto, he says, for coconut macaroons.

Manischewitz has been around for more than 100 years. But it hasn't been family owned since the 1980s. The latest owner is a unit of Bain Capital - Mitt Romney's old company.

And this strategy of appealing to Jews and non-Jews, isn't exactly new. Here's an ad from the 1960s, featuring Sammy Davis Jr.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV AD)

(SOUNDBITE)

SAMMY DAVIS JR.: (Singing) Almonetta from Manischewitz wine. Try some after dinner tonight. It's delicious.

MARRITZ: Then as now, the idea is to convert people.

For NPR News, I'm Ilya Marritz in New York.

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