Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Do You Crave Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?

I have lots of friends that are baalei teshuvah.  This means they did not grow up Orthodox, but accepted a mitzvah-observant lifestyle in their teen or adult years.

I find it interesting to hear what they miss.  There are plenty of things they don't miss - although this varies greatly from one person to the next.  Some don't even want to think about their previous lives, while others look back with nostalgia.

One of my friends has a thing for cheeseburgers.  She seriously misses McDonald's, Burger King - you name it.  While in Israel, the thrill of the chase for a kosher "cheese"burger is a treasured time.  Others miss the social opportunities, the clothing they no longer wear (and are possibly still hanging in the closet), or the ability to eat anywhere.

I'm not a baalas teshuvah.  I grew up observant.  But there are some things I did take on voluntarily in my adult life.  One of them is cholov yisrael.  Literally, it means "Jewish milk."  Here's the background: truly, all milk that comes from a kosher animal (cow, goat) is by definition kosher.  But back in the day, there was a temptation by some dairy farms to dilute their kosher milk with non-kosher milk (pig's, for example) to save a buck.  Therefore, a rabbinic ordinance was instituted to only drink milk that was milked under Jewish supervision, to make sure no hanky-panky took place.  This milk was called "cholov yisrael."

When Jews began arriving en masse to the USA, the facts changed.  The USDA regulated milking, and it was a crime to dilute the milk with other forms.  Therefore, it was as though the government was supervising the milking, and all USDA milk was considered kosher and usable.  However, some chose the extra stringency of cholov yisrael anyway, to maintain the custom.  The larger the Jewish commnity, the easier it is to obtain cholov yisrael dairy products.

My husband and I both grew up using plain old dairy products.  When we got engaged and planned to move to Israel, we decided to accept upon ourselves the extra restriction of cholov yisrael.  (In Israel, all the dairy is cholov yisrael... but then we moved to Buffalo Grove, Illinois.)  Practically speaking, what this meant for me was NO MORE REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS.  Now, this is a big deal.

When I go to the store and see them, I miss them.  In the airport, they talk to me.  At the BP store on a road trip, my mouth waters for them.  But I have never, ever craved a cheeseburger.

Interesting, no?

What's your experience?


  1. I do know how you feel. I'm FFB so I don't miss the cheeseburgers, but I do miss black and white cookies since I left New York and moved to Israel. 29 years is a long time to miss a cookie. And then I started baking them myself. It's not the same, but it serves a purpose. I even blogged about it.

    Have you tried making your own peanut butter cups? I make them as bars and they are a big hit with the family and at the kiddush club in shul. Check this out:

  2. I grew up eating pork chops and cheeseburgers. I haven't touched either in years. I do not miss them ever. I do, however, miss the occasional shrimp cocktail.

  3. I was just thinking about this exact concept the other day...I did not grow up keeping kosher but I do now, in fact for health reasons, I don't eat any meat. I do miss Chick-f-la sandwiches...they were amazing. As I was thinking about this the other day I asked myself what would be the harm if I had a sandwich? Still learning and not being educated enough a long my journey, I could not answer this question. Ruchi, what would be the harm? I am human and can make "mistakes."

  4. I think the best one I heard was a guy who claimed to miss wearing shatnez. That was cute.

    Sometimes I miss skinny jeans. But only when I'm feeling skinny, of course. Mostly, though, I miss food stuff. And Indian restaurants. We need one here. That would be super!

  5. to mindi:
    ye, we are human and can make mistakes, but if we truly strive to be as spiritual as humanly possible, then every little bit "counts". We harm nobody but ourselves.
    (would you feel the same about "just a bit" of arsenic? one harms the body and the other harms the soul.)

    PS There are CY peanut butter cups in Israel.

  6. This is actually something that baffles me. I come from a long line of farmers and let me say that milking a pig is simply unheard of. For one it would be much harder to do as cows are bred partially b/c they milk so easily and abundantly, but also pigs are bread purposefully for their meat. Pork is extremely high in iron and vitamins so it was (and is) a very easy food to produce especially if you are on a pilgrimage or are headed out west etc. Farmers breed for what an animal is best used for and pigs are not generally used for milk, but meat b/c they gain weight easily and rapidly and live off of nothing more than scraps and whatever they find in the ground. It wouldn't be advantageous to try and milk pigs b/c they are typically bullheaded and VERY heavy and hard to move. they also lay down while milking their young (so far as I know) which is yet another reason this baffles me.

    Simply put-pigs are a very easy source of meat protein with very little "overhead" cost.

    My gut tells me that this dilutions with pig milk is a myth. Maybe they did dilute it, or use some other abhorrent practice, but milking a pig to me seems about as easy to do as milking a walrus. Can it be done? sure! would it? I can't see why. I really need to look into this one better.

    Secondly though, I seriously miss steak and cheese sandwiches. I also miss Christmas trees (which I was actually just writing a post about... but had to leave it until tonight when I have more time.)

  7. I read that the concern was dilution from milk of other non-kosher animals like mares, not pigs.

  8. Miriyummy don't even get me started on those cookies, I could write a whole post! Fortunately the Bagel Shoppe here in Cleveland started making an awesome one! Yeah I have the pareve version but it ain't the same.

    Roni now that's interesting. Why do you miss the one and not the other? Just preference?

    Mindi the Torah tells us that each action we take leaves a spiritual impression on our soul...

    Rivki that reminds me that there are some clothing options I hanker for though I've never worn them. I guess that calls my theory into question. Or maybe I care more about clothes than food! Yup that's it :)

    Rena what are they called??

    Elle and Sarah you are right and I stand corrected. Thanks for keeping me accurate. And for being nice about it.

  9. Oh dear. Honey pecan shrimp from the best Chinese restaurant in the East Bay. I didn't even have to think. I miss these things like crazy. Giant shrimp, battered, lightly fried, drenched in a delicious creamy honey-mustard-mayo sauce, and topped with honey roasted pecan halves. I've had it in many places--before converting--and this was the best, hands down. I even went the weekend before converting and had the whole order to myself for dinner (usually one order is enough for 3ish people).

    Some friends have tried to help me recreate it (since the only treif part is the shrimp itself), but I always feel guilty about trying to make a kosher shrimp substitute. Like these things are verbotten to me; why am I trying to skirt the rule by recreating them?

    Now I'm hungry.

  10. Kraft macaroni and cheese, hands down. Wacky Mac doesn't even come close!

  11. I crave Reese's peanut butter cups AND cheeseburgers!!! I also miss smoking and heavy metal music, so clearly it has nothing to do with good taste ;). I do think that reese's peanut butter cups are the best tasting things in the world. If I had to pick one, that'd be it.
    (And thanks for the Bagel Shoppe shout-out:)

  12. Ruchi, since you and your husband keep cholov yisrael, does that mean all of your kids do too?

  13. Yes. I have heard some noise that one or two of them, when they have their own homes, don't want to. I feel it will up to them and their future spouses to decide.

  14. to mikvabound: there's actually a section in the gemara (Talmud) detailing what kosher foods taste just like the treif versions,to teach us that we can fulfill every desire if we truly have the need.

    PS I don't know - I'll try to check in the makolet when I get a chance!

  15. mikvahbound: interesting. When I was a kid we used to use bacos on our salads. When I got married, I bought some and my husband was taken aback - he was like, why would you try to approximate bacon?? Now we have a kosher Subway here in Cleveland and I never get soy cheese on my meat sandwich (actually I usually get a tuna melt). Ditto for "Passover" bagels and Cheerios. But if that's a way for someone to stay kosher, I say go for it!

  16. my personal feel is that I'm leery of putting more stringencies on things, if for nothing else because it's time consuming and it's more reason to push people away from observancy. Plus for those of us who struggle financially it gets in the way of us keeping kosher.

    I think eating FAKE meat is just plain weird. Like why would you want to pretend something is something it isn't? A veggie-burger is a food all to itself in my opinion, not a substitution for meat. I don't think I could every handle cheese that isn't really dairy or taco made our of "soy meat". Not my thing. But if someone likes a soy burger topped with cheese, what do I care? It seems that the only issue would be confusing it with actual meat, but I'm nearly certain that nobody in a kosher restaurant would think they accidentally put cheese in your steak sandwich. So I'm think you're safe there. ;)

    Furthermore, I thought for a long time today and I can't think of one single nonkosher animal which milk could more easily (or more inexpensively) gotten from to dilute cow's milk with. Cow's milk is the cheapest in America. And so far as I know Europe. Are we sure there isn't some other reason for Cholov Yisrael? Like maybe unsafe practices? Or animal abuse? Or even perhaps something to do with animal sacrifice? Just wondering... because I think a lot of people who interpret the reasons behind certain laws/customs now aren't very familiar with such things as practical nonJewish farming practices. This is a topic I always promise myself to look into and I always forget! :)

    I love your blog, btw. It's one of my favs. The honesty is refreshing!

  17. I love this post! You're hillarious...I can totally get what you're saying. Don't think I could give up my Reese's! This blog is so necessary. So many people don't understand being Orthodox and I love how you explain everything so matter of fact. Will be following!

    If you're interested in a cool modest fashion blog hope you come check me out!


  18. Elle and Sharon, thanks so very much for your kind words. It keeps me going!!

    Elle if you come up with any info I'd love to hear it. Now I'm curious!

    Sharon, your blog is great. Love your warm and positive energy!!

  19. here are some interesting insights on the need for chalav yisroel (from

    "Although most non-kosher species do not allow themselves to be milked (have you ever tried to milk a cat?), camels, donkeys, and mares can all be milked and produce a palatable product. As a matter of fact, at times there was a large (non-kosher) market for mare’s milk, because of its reputed health benefits."

    also, from
    The Rabbis' fear was not that one might mistakenly drink non-kosher milk, since horse or camel's milk looks altogether different from cow's milk, but rather that a non-Jew might mix a small, undetectable amount of non-kosher milk into the cow's milk rendering it non-kosher for the unsuspecting kosher consumer.

    Indeed, I remember reading a story of just such an occurance, of Jews who laughed at this stringency and drank such a milk mixture by mistake. (This was in old-time Europe, where there was no allowance as there is nowadays in in the US.)

    Thanks Ruchy for getting me to learn new things about my chumros!

  20. I believe mare or camel milk was much more of a concern.

    Ironic that this is a huge drink for a population that is almost entirely Muslim and shouldn't consume any alcoholic or fermented beverage.

  21. I know this is verrry belated, but I thought I would post an update: we received something very similar to Peanut Butter Cups in our shalach manos - round bon-bons of peanut butter coated with chocolate - some milk-chocolate and some bittersweet. yumm! (the hechsher was from Lucerne, Switzerland.)

  22. Well that is good to know!!! I also got some awesome homemade stuff over Purim that came really close...

  23. ah, so now yet another of your reasons not to come live in EY has just been knocked down cold. :)


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