Matzah Madness: Who is The Breadwinner?

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A selection of matzahs we sampled for Matzah Madness 2018. | Marissa Stern

Mmmmm, matzah — something that has never been said in the history of Passover.

The hefty square resembling cardboard is hardly a favorite snack, but some are admittedly digestible — even edible — or even good.

Slap on some butter or cream cheese and you almost forget you’re eating a stale cracker with just as many carbohydrates as bread.

So in the spirit of the holiday and sports, the Jewish Exponent staff sampled 12 different types of matzah — if you think we left one out, we simply picked the ones we were able to find, although there are plenty of other “delicious” options out there — for the sake of journalism.

Round One: Flavor Taste Test

All of the matzahs we sampled for Matzah Madness 2018.

We began with a whole lotta matzah and even more room in our bellies. We paired certain flavors against one another to see how they compared.

Holyland Plain Matzos from Trader Joe’s, Manischewitz Whole Wheat Matzos, Osem Israeli Egg Matzah and Manischewitz Gluten Free Matzo-Style Squares each received a bye for this round.

First up: Yehuda Chocolatey Coated Matzos versus Streit’s Dark Chocolate Egg Matzos.

Yehuda’s had a crunchier, stronger matzah flavor dipped in milk chocolate, while Streit’s was too soft. However, when choosing a chocolate-covered matzah, you eat it because you want chocolate — not matzah.

Streit’s dark chocolate coating was rich and creamy, taking the win.

Next, the eggs. Yehuda Egg Matzos had a very eggy, challah-like taste; even better with butter. The box promised “20% more free” — free of what? Eggs? Flavor? We’re still unsure.

But they were confirmed to be the better of the two after we sampled Manischewitz Yolk-Free Egg Matzos.

Not only did the yolk-free square look like cardboard, it smelled and tasted like it, too. We didn’t know it was possible for a piece of matzah to taste like an Amazon Prime package left out in the sun too long, but it did. Winner: Yehuda Egg Matzos.

For some snack options, Manischewitz Egg Tam Tams Garlic Crackers faced the Cinnamon Sugared Surprisingly Delicious Matzo Chips. We liked both because they provide a no break, no mess matzah option — except the Tam Tams’ egg base kept clumping in our teeth, and left an unsavory aftertaste.

A garlic cracker sounds appetizing, except this one needs salt. And pepper. And, actually, garlic. Its seasoning instantly evaporated in our mouths into a flavorless piece of … well, matzah.

But fear not: The chips were beyond delicious. It instantly won: They’re super crunchy and undistinguishable from a pita chip — it also didn’t even taste like matzah — and the sweet seasoning didn’t overpower the bite. We went in for a second taste, in the name of science. And a third. And a fourth …

Finally, Haddar Spelt Organic 18 Minutes Matzos versus Streit’s Organic Matzo for Passover.

We weren’t familiar with Haddar, but its $10 price tag at Acme intrigued us, as did the promise of it being baked within exactly an 18-minute timeframe.

Unfortunately, that might have been 18 minutes too long. First impressions are everything: These spelt pieces, made from an ancient hulled wheat, were dark and charred-looking.

However, it’d be a great crust for matzah pizza, even though it smells like ash.

Streit’s Organic included a laundry list of ingredients — namely because people may have used its two ingredients to do laundry in olden times.

Just wheat flour and water, we confirmed it was better than the egg matzahs, but still too plain. Its crispiness, however, gave it the win, since it worked as a simple vehicle for toppings.

Round Two: Bye, Bye Breadie

We initially felt bad putting Holyland Plain Matzos from Trader Joe’s against the palate-pleaser Streit’s Dark Chocolate, but we were pleasantly surprised with its versatility. It had that traditional, subtly burnt matzah flavor, good for all occasions or variations.

And after tasting Streit’s again, we drooled for more of the crunch Holyland offered. Huzzah, the Loyola-Chicago underdog of matzah!

Although Yehuda Egg Matzos won the first round, it faced defeat against Manischewitz Whole Wheat Matzos. We didn’t have high hopes for it because it looked like the fake, plastic foods toddlers play with.

It made our mouths dry and tongues scratchy, almost like it was trying to give off a smoky flavor, but it came off just grainy and burnt.

However, trying the Yehuda Egg Matzos after the whole wheat blinded us with an overwhelming spoiled egginess.

Although winners by a thin margin, we’d like to note to Manischewitz: Whoever keeps putting their bags in the boxes sideways, please stop.

Next, Osem Israeli Egg Matzah, another semi-unfamiliar brand, gave us the illusion of a plain matzah. It lied.

It plays coy with its sweet, fruity scent, but upon first bite, the entire staff let out a unanimous Blech! The matzah is made with fruit juice for added flavor — and not kosher for Passover — which gave it the fake, artificial aftertaste of bubblegum-flavored Juicy Juice.

Paired against the Surprisingly Delicious Matzo Chips, it was no contest. Pro tip: If you dip the cinnamon-sugar chips in cream cheese, they taste like a Cinnabon.

Finally, we sampled the Manischewitz Gluten Free Matzo-Style Squares. (Note: These are not a replacement at the seder, but still kosher.)

These matzahs were essentially bright white potatoes flattened into thin sheets, which smelled like a handful of plastic bags from the supermarket.

Gross. Winner by default: Streit’s Organic.

Round Three: We’re Getting Full

When it came down to Holyland Plain versus Manischewitz Whole Wheat, it was an easy choice for the Trader Joe’s brand.

But as much as we would have voted for the Surprisingly Delicious Matzo Chips, we had to give the win to Streit’s Organic after we discovered the chips are actually not kosher for Passover.

One Matzah to Rule Them All

It didn’t take much for us to fall in love with the simplicity of Holyland Plain, reminiscent of childhood seders of yesteryear. Above anything else, we’re surprised we picked the most basic flavor, and from an unknown brand.

Even though we usually disagree with the following statement, it goes to show that with this matzah, less is more.

The completed Matzah Madness 2018 bracket

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1 COMMENT

  1. I’m not Jewish, but one need not be a Jew to enjoy just plain matzah and I preferred Manischewitz, and I haven’t had a real bagel for years and enjoyed them, as well as Halvah and Jewish pickles and tomatoes from the barrel at delis, all scarce where I live. Alas, and Oy.

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