KOSHER COKE A BIG HIT
By RITA DELFINER
SWEET NEWS: Zvi Spitzer yesterday shows the sugar-formula Coke at Central Market in Williamsburg.
March 19, 2007 -- Why is this Coke different from all other Cokes?
It's kosher for Passover.
And even non-Jews are thirsty for the limited batch of Coca-Cola because of a very special ingredient - it's made with pure sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
"I had somebody with an Indian accent call me one year to ask when Passover was so he would know when to look for the Coca-Cola made with sugar," said Arlene Mathes-Scharf, who runs the kosher food information Web site Kashrut.com
Jason Perlow, 37, founder of offthebroiler.com, a New York metro-area food blog, said he got thousands of hits when he posted an alert on March 12 that the kosher Coke had started appearing in local stores.
"These are people who love Coca-Cola as it used to be," he said. "Sugar lends a different flavor. It's not as sweet and it's much fizzier and foamier."
Coca-Cola used sugar as a sweetener before it switched to high-fructose corn syrup in the 1980s.
Harriet Tolve, spokeswoman for the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of New York, said that for "at least 20 years," it has been making the kosher-for-Passover beverages "in addition to our regularly produced product."
Passover, the eight-day holiday that commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, begins at sundown April 2 with the first seder.
During Passover, Jews cannot consume "chametz," defined as five grains -wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt - that have come in contact with moisture for more than 18 minutes. Many Jews observe an additional Passover prohibition that includes rice, lentils, beans - and corn.
Locally, Coca-Cola's Passover products, which are certified by the Orthodox Union, have a distinctive yellow cap on the 2-liter bottles marked with an O circling a U next to a P and the words "kosher for Passover" in Hebrew. Cans are embossed to show they are kosher for Passover.
Pepsi produces a kosher for-Passover soda, and many other companies modify their NOproducts to meet the requirements of Jewish dietary law, said Menachem Lubinsky, editor-in-chief of KosherToday.com, a food-industry newsletter.
"They can notice a significant bump in sales because of their kosher-for-Passover status," he said. "If they were not kosher for Passover, they would experience a drop in sales for an eight-day period."
That's because "almost 70 percent of American Jews participate in at least one seder" and many non-Jews attend them, he said.