Corn Syrup and Kosher Coca-Cola

While perusing the fabulously informative Straight Dope website, I came
across the column on Coca-Cola and corn sweetener from Cecil’s second book, More of the Straight Dope.

Let me contribute this little tidbit to the discussion of Coca-Cola and
specifically the substitution of high fructose corn syrup for sugar.

The Coke purists among the teeming millions should know that every spring the
New York area bottler of Coca-Cola religiously whips up a special batch of
the beverage using only sugar and not a drop of corn sweetener.

They do this to accommodate the large Jewish population in the New York
metropolitan area during the Passover holiday when observant Jews modify
their diet to only consume foodstuffs that are kosher for Passover.

Corn and all products made from corn are not kosher for Passover and thus any
product labeled as kosher for Passover cannot contain corn syrup (high
fructose or other). Although the Coke label is unchanged and still lists
“high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose” in the ingredients, it cannot, by
religious law (and as you have noted in other columns the Jewish certifying
organizations take this quite seriously) contain the much reviled corn

If the aforementioned Coke purists wish to stock up on this rare bounty (as
many actually do) they should visit any supermarket in the New York
metropolitan area about a month before Passover/Easter. The only markings
will be 6 Hebrew letters (two rows of three) stamped on the cap of the
bottle. They may ship some to other parts of the country too but I do not
know that for certain.

YOu can also do this in Philadelphia.

There’s also usually a samll circled K (Like a copyright C or a registered R) on the cap as well.

And my family (Being Coca-Cola fantics, actaully performed a taste test last thanksgiving.

Coke with real sugar tastes a thousand times better than corn syrup>

hands down.

“So why ain’t corn kosher?” asks the ignorant WASP.

That’s a great question, AWB. How did ancient Tamudic (sp?) scholars know to exclude a food that wasn’t discovered by Jews until the 16th century?

Corn is Kosher, it is just not Kosher for Passover. “Kosher for Passover” being a much narrower subset of just plain kosher. Kosher for Passover foods being just the kind of foods that the ancient Hebrews were able to bring with them in their escape from the Egyptians. Corn, not being discovered until the 16th century cleary was not an available food for the ancient Hebrews, thus it is trafe (unkosher) at least for the 8 days of Passover.

AWB asks, “Why isn’t corn kosher?” The answer is that it is kosher, it’s just not kosher for Passover. And the topic can be found explained in full in Cecil’s Mailbag:

Even though corn wasn’t discovered at the time of the first Passover, Judaism is fairly flexible – when something new is discovered (like corn, tomatoes, or white-tailed deer) the Rebbes get toegther and decide how it fits in with existing doctrine.

Corn is not Kosher for Passover because like rice, barley and other grains, it swells when water is added. At least that’s always how it was explained to me.

There are some serious experts on this board, maybe they can chime in with the definitive answer.

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Before the microscope, no-one knew about yeast. They just knew that if you mixed grain with water and let it sit, you’d get “leavening”.

Jews are forbidden to have “leavening” during Passover; instead, they must eat “unleavened” bread. The rule became, therefore, that you must not have anything that involves grain (or anything else you can make bread out of) coming into contact with water for more than enough time to make dough for unleavened bread – ten minutes, I think. Jews must not even own any “leavening” during Passover. (There’s an old tradition whereby the rabbi will make a deal with a friendly gentile to “buy” all the “leavening” in town for the holiday and then sell it back again; in communities where this tradition is observed, Jewish homes keep a special locked cabinet that “belongs to” the friendly gentile.)

Anyway, since soft drinks (and corn syrup itself) contain water, and corn syrup is made from corn, which is a grain, corn syrup is not Kosher for Passover, even though it’s Kosher for the rest of the year.

The K in a circle only means regular Kosher – no pork, no shellfish, no dairy mixed with meat, animals inspected and slaughtered according to Jewish rules… Kosher for Passover is labelled “Kosher for Passover” in English and Hebrew.

This year, the “Kosher for Passover” cans of Coke, etc., were not specially labeled, but were put in a “Kosher for Passover” rack, and the Dr Pepper, at least (which is bottled in the NYC area by the NY Coca-Cola Bottling Company) was definitely made with sugar. (And as far as I know, they simply change the recipe for a time, so that all cans made during the “Kosher for Passover” sales period are the same, no matter how they’re sold or labelled.)

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Actually, I remember reading that Coke was considering not making the special batch of kosher Coke anymore. It was a local NYC news story from a while ago. Mebbe I can find it…

I’ve also heard that the Coke bottled in Hawaii uses sugar, since there it’s cheaper than corn syrup.

What I wouldn’t give to find some Coke made with sugar. I haven’t been able to stomach the stuff since they changed to corn syrup.

I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

In Mexico Coca-Cola is bottled with real sugar.
If El Marichi Loco is still lurking around here you might hit off some kind of exchange program.