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By Beth Fitzgerald
Religion News Service

NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) When Passover begins on April 19 and Jewish families gather for the traditional seder meal, they can expect this question: “What happened to the Tam Tams?”
The bite-sized matzo crackers are a Passover perennial, perfect for dipping in egg salad or chopped liver and eating straight from the box.
But Manischewitz, the global kosher food producer, has temporarily stopped making Tam Tams because of production problems at its Newark plant.
A $15 million oven that was supposed to debut in October didn’t come on line until December, Manischewitz spokesman David Rossi said. That didn’t leave enough time to produce the company’s full line of matzo products for Passover.
“We realized there are only so many hours in the day that we can make matzos, and something had to give,” Rossi said. That something turned out to be the Tam Tams.
Matzo is a flat bread or cracker made without yeast, so the dough won’t rise before it is baked. The eating of matzo is an essential part of the Passover seder, which commemorates the Hebrew slaves’ hasty exodus from Egypt.
Manischewitz introduced Tam Tams in 1940. The origin of the name has not been definitively documented, but the word “ta’am” in Hebrew means taste, “so we think that’s the derivation,” Rossi said.
Manischewitz needs five months to make all its Passover matzo products.
“This year, we only had between three to four months,” Rossie said.
Some Jews are taking the loss hard.
“It is a big deal,” said Edie Kodosh, 14, of Springfield, N.J. “It is a big deal. I’ll miss them.”
Other fans of the crunchy snack took a stoic view. Morty Leiwant of Short Hills first read about the situation in an edition of the New Jersey Jewish News in February.
“I like Tam Tams, but I’m not going to get emotional about it,” he said.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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