Krembo (Hebrew: קרמבו, a portmanteau word meaning literally "Cream-in-it") is the name of a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat that is very popular in Israel. Krembos are only sold in the winter. They are hand-wrapped in colourful aluminum foil, and consist of a round biscuit base topped with marshmallow cream coated in a thin layer of chocolate. Krembos have achieved the status of a pop-cultural item and a national icon.
The krembo was invented around 200 years ago in Denmark. The concoction was popular as a homemade sweet in Mandate Palestine in the 1940s, when it was known as Kushi (Hebrew כושי, "negro") and Rosh Kushi (Hebrew language: ראש כושי "negro's head") (this name was borrowed from the names used in Europe). It entered mass production in 1966. The first manufacturer, the Whitman Company, coined the name Krembo. In Hebrew, the word krembo is a combination of krem (cream) and bo (in it). A mocha flavour was introduced in 1967. In 1979 Whitman was acquired by Strauss-Elite. As of 2003[update] Strauss controls 54% of the krembo market in Israel. While considered a children's favourite, sociologists have found that it is consumed as a comfort food by Israeli expatriates in the United States, evoking nostalgia for their childhood. During the 1980s and 1990s smaller manufacturers introduced additional flavours such as banana and strawberry but failed to achieve a significant market share.
Krembos are a seasonal treat sold only four months a year, from October to February. Nevertheless, 50 million krembos are sold each year—an average of 9 per person. According to a study funded by Strauss, Israel's leading krembo producer, 69% of Israelis prefer to eat krembos from the top down (starting with the cream), and only 10% start with the biscuit at the bottom; the rest had no preference.
In 2005, Strauss signed an agreement with Unilever to export ice cream and krembos to the United States and Canada due to a demand for products of this type with strict kosher certification. Under terms of the agreement, they may be sold only in kosher supermarkets and import shops. The distributor in North America is Dairy Delight, a subsidiary of Norman's Dairy. In 2007, Nestlé introduced an ice cream variation of krembo called Lekbo (Hebrew: לקבו, "lick inside").
According to Halacha
Under Jewish law (Halacha), there is some significance to the order in which one eats a Krembo. The blessing over the biscuit is boreh miney mezonot, whereas the blessing over the cream and chocolate is shehakol nihiyya bidvaro. According to halacha, when eating a dish of mixed components, one need pronounce only the blessing over the main components, thus for a chocolate croissant one would say the blessing over the dough, and skip the blessing over the chocolate. But in the case of the Krembo, there is no consensus as to which is the "main" component: the biscuit, or the cream and chocolate. One solution is to bless over each component separately.
In popular culture
Israeli rock band Kaveret's hit song "Shir HaMakolet" ("The Grocery Store Song") mentions a character buying Krembo.
Alon 'Krembo' Sagiv is a fictional character in the Israeli cult film Mivtza Savta, as a child on a kibbutz he once stole an entire case of Krembos and locked himself in his room. With the entire kibbutz waiting for him outside he had to dispose of the evidence and ate the entire case, earning himself his much-loathed nickname.
- Fake kosher snacks from Gaza barred
- "10 Things you don't know about a krembo" (in Hebrew). Yedioth Ahronoth. 2003-11-07. Retrieved 2007-01-20.
- Jews of Brooklyn Ilana Abramovitch and Sean Galvin, Brandeis University Press, ISBN 1-58465-003-6
- Chestnuts roasting in my gelato
- "New Israeli Development: Ice Cream Krembo". Ynet. February 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-07. (Hebrew)
- When Harry’ met Hebrew, Cleveland Jewish News, Sarah Bronson, October 18, 2007