Manischewitz, that tart-tasting wine commonly found at Jewish gatherings and dry weddings, has a more intriguing backstory than one would think. First, it's not just a wine but the name of a company that has practically cornered the market on packaged kosher food, according to Modern Farmer

Here, are three fun facts about the onetime small business in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (and just because): 

Why that wine is so sweet: As Modern Farmer explains, when the company decided to get into the wine business in 1947, the only locally available grape was the Concord. Known for its sour juice and ties to grape jelly, it was hardly a Beaujolais. So home vinters added sugar, and the sweet taste became the standard. 

Is the wine kosher? Not for everyone, exactly. The store version is sweetened with corn syrup, and since corn is what's known as a kitniyot, or a grain or legume, it cannot be consumed during Passover by followers of traditional Ashkenazi laws and customs.

What's with the catchphrase? "Mah-oh-Manischewitz!"--a catchphrase so bad, it's brilliant--was the brainchild of the Joseph Jacobs Agency, Modern Farmer writes. In fact, the tag was so catchy that Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernana blurted it out during his 1973 moonwalk. Sammy Davis Jr. once got paid to say it on radio and TV, too, but that gig fell through when rumors surfaced he'd been involved with adult film star Linda Lovelace at the Playboy Mansion. 

Published on: Sep 25, 2014