By Melissa Hernandez
“Hey I know the matzo business, my son needs a job …Let’s open up a new modern matzo factory.” Who would have thought that Aron Streit, Inc would have started in such a simple and random way?
That was the sentence that according to Alen Adler, current manager of the factory, started the business we know today at Streit’s. And that since 1916 became a pioneer in the matzo production and it is traditionally known among Jewish families because it has been accompanying their Passover meals for almost a hundred years.
Although, the company keeps constantly innovating with new products going from potato products to cake mixes and macaroons among many others, they still strive to keep the traditional touch in every single piece of food they sell. It is ironic that such a huge company is still producing the same matzo in the same factory. And although Adler recognizes that producing matzo in this old factory “is a terribly inefficient process” they changed their plans to move to a bigger and more efficient factory and decided to keep the tradition.
While they have been working on that the city has grown, their neighbors have changed and they have become the one matzo factory in the middle of a mist of restaurants and bars that weren’t there many years before. While many of these restaurants try to present something new in order to keep their clientele, Streit’s keeps producing the product their started with in 1916 and can probably get more profit than them.
The main ingredients in matzo are flour and water. Looking at those ingredients make it seem like preparing matzo isn’t a lot of work. Yet, the specifications to create perfect matzo are only mastered by few. Passover matzo, according to Adler, should only have flour and still water and requires a more careful preparation than regular matzo. In order to do so, they “manually dump the flour in the water into the mixing bowl and then the Rabbis time it.” The baking can’t exceed more than 18 minutes because the bible says it has to be unleavened. This meticulous process requires them to use three men plus a supervisor Rabbi, whereas for the rest of the year they only have one man working on this process.
Yes, they do it the “old fashioned way” as Adler says “We are also one of the few if not only matzo factory that uses convention ovens.” This might be one of the reasons why moving to a new factory just would not have worked out. Adler emphasizes their particular care on keeping their matzo with the same flavor that it came out of one of the ovens in this same factory but almost a century ago.
And the families that buy their products know it. For many if it isn’t Streit’s it isn’t Passover. Jamie DeLine, a Jewish student, said that at her aunt’s house because they are so religious “they have to have it.”
We don’t know what their secret it is, it could be the difference of temperature in the ends of the ovens that make their matzo have a darker side than the other or maybe their old machines that after having done the same process for so long just can’t make it any better. Perhaps, it is the care they put in every single step or maybe they could just happen to have the” better “recipe.
That is unknown. However, what they do know is that their matzo is better than the completion’s and that tradition is an important word for this family who has preserved the taste of their matzo for over four generations.