Israel

The Racist Origins of the Krembo.

kramboo_b1I’m sure you’ve tried one. Its that delicious chocolate-covered marshmallow treat, the one that lies there wrapped in foil on tops of piles of Hebrew sweets. Oh, the delight of the children, the satisfaction of the chub devouring one outside the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station!
Really, the history of the Krembo is kind of symbolic of how far we haven’t come in our little Zionist project. The Krembo, which in Hebrew translates to “cream in it” was called a rosh kushi in Mandate Hebrew, or Kushite Head in the loshn of America. The treat’s name was apparently given by the central Europeans who invented the things. In settlements all over eretz yisroel, Jewish pioneer children would go the makolet and buy a candy that was intended to remind the child of a biblical black person’s head.
Just goes to show how ancient our racial notions run. When the candy was industrialized, the patent holder coined the name “Krembo.” How vaguely similar to Sambo and Kimbo.
Now, when I see a small Hebrew child chomping into a Krembo, I’ll shudder in fear and puke.

23 thoughts on “The Racist Origins of the Krembo.

    1. In the Hebrew version of Harry Potter, Krembo is Dumbledore’s favorite candy and therefore the password to enter his office (instead of sherbet lemon, whatever that is).

  1. I think this means that a little google searching and skimming of wikipedia can go a long way.
    Unless the main point of the post was that it’s nice that Israelis are more racially sensitive now than in the past.

  2. I’m not sure if google searching is the point, considering you could figure out just about anything online. I think the point is that Israels could easily be citizens of a county in northern alabama in terms of their racist attitudes.

  3. Finding racism in the name Crembo strikes me as unduly paranoid, especially tying it to a name like Sambo (fading in our culture, doubtfully ever part of Israeli culture) and to kimbo, which I don’t find in my dictionary, although I find akimbo, with no raial connotations whatsoever.
    Why not admire the progressive change from rosh kushi, instead of denigrating it? (And now I suppose I’ll be chastised for using the word denigrate.)

  4. I thought this light-hearted racist history lession could maybe take our minds off of whats happening in Tzfas. But then again, we should really focus on the “progressive change” from the kushite head to the Krembo, and not see how this is at least discursively related to the deep racism against non-whites in Israel, whether they be Jewish, Arab, African, Asian, whatever.

  5. I hope folks understand that ‘Krem’ is Hebrew for ‘cream’ and ‘bo’ can be used to mean ‘within it.’ So Krebo means ‘cream inside’ which is an accurate and non-racist description of this delicious treat, which I enjoyed on so many occasions.
    Now the ice cream on a stick called ‘Kofico’ – that one is racist to the core.

  6. I’m glad JG mentioned that because I was wondering if that was fully understood by readers, too. But I thought the point wasn’t that Krembo is racist today, but that its origins are racist–which also goes to say that it is not Israeli society then that embodies that racism, but the central/eastern European cultural ancestors which created the treat and gave it its racist names. But this is also remnant of a name for Brazil Nuts, which are known in some regions as “n****er toes,” but that doesn’t make the Brazil Nut racist, it makes those who gave them the name “n****er toes” racist…

    1. Justin writes:
      I’m glad JG mentioned that because I was wondering if that was fully understood by readers, too.
      It’s mentioned in the original post!

  7. it is, but then it is connected to Sambo and Kimbo(sic) and that may cause a little confusion in that it insinuates that Krembo is itself a racist name, which it’s not.

  8. What’s the confusion? If Krembo voted for President Obama, then it’s not racist . . . if it didn’t then obviously Krembo is racist!

  9. Jonathan1, now you’re just stating the obvious. What if Krembo voted for President Obama, then got drunk on Ben Yahuda Street and was videotaped saying negative things about President Obama?

  10. What if Krembo voted for President Obama, then got drunk on Ben Yahuda Street and was videotaped saying negative things about President Obama?
    Assuming that Krembo was an 18-year-old American yeshivah student in Israel for the year, then obviously it would demonstrate that most Israelis hate African-Americans. Is there any doubt about that?

  11. Dat’s sum sho’ nuff good candy, boss! Ah luvs me sum “shvartze-kop”, Ah do Suh!
    I suppose you don’t eat Aunt Jemima’s or Uncle Ben’s, either?

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