Film Chronicles the End of an Era for a New York Matzo Factory

When Jewish families and friends gather at Passover tables next week, the ubiquitous accompaniment to their meal—appetizer, side dish, edible history lesson—will be matzo. The crispy cracker, often little more than flour and water, is meant to resemble the flat bread baked by ancient Jews in a hurry while escaping slavery from Egypt. The basic recipe has remained remarkably consistent over the years, as have many of the traditions surrounding it.

Case in point: the Streit’s matzo factory on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which churned out a large chunk of the nation's “bread of affliction” for the better part of a century. But as CityLab reports, while little changed inside the five-floor factory on Rivington Street, outside the neighborhood changed from immigrant haven to well-heeled late-night destination—not such a great place for a noisy factory and its delivery trucks. Last year, the factory was finally sold—for $31 million.

Just in time for Passover, filmmaker Michael Levine has released a documentary about the factory’s story: Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream. (“Leavened with history!” says the Wall Street Journal.) The film tells the tale of the factory from its opening in 1925 through its final days, using archival imagery and interviews with staff, plus plenty of hands-on matzo-making shots. The film opens in New York on April 20, followed by a release in other cities, and is accompanied by an exhibit at the Art on A gallery featuring historical Streit’s photos and machinery. You can watch a trailer for it above.

Fortunately, families who love Streit’s need not worry about their matzo supplies—the factory is reopening in Rockland County later this year, according to CityLab. 

[h/t CityLab]

Header image via Jonathunder via Wikipedia // GNU Free Documentation License

Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”


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