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Food by VICE

Israel Is Going Completely Nuts Over Charoset Ice Cream

Although Ben & Jerry's charoset ice cream is only available in Israel, it has recently taken off as Passover approaches due to a viral social media frenzy.

by Hilary Pollack
Mar 24 2015, 8:30pm

Photo via Flickr user rpavich

In 2015, the spectrum of available ice cream flavors has risen far above and beyond the lone, old-timey bins of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry (maybe all three at once—Neapolitan—if ice cream sandwiches are considered). Nope, nowadays we hardly bat an eye at the offer of a Cedar Creamsicle scoop, or a sundae made of olive oil sherbet, burnt charcoal crumbles, and ant sprinkles.

Those crazy hippies at Ben & Jerry's have long known that the ice-cream-flavor game is one of infinite possibilities; a trip to its "Flavor Graveyard" reveals bygone creations such as Holy Cannoli (creamy ricotta and pistachio ice cream with chocolate-covered cannolis and roasted pistachios) and even a Seinfeldian Festivus flavor (brown sugar cinnamon ice cream with gingerbread cookies and a ginger-caramel swirl).

Their penchant for flavor creativity also results in some products with regional—and even religious—appeal. Like, for example, making ice cream flavored like charoset—the traditional Passover dish of a fruit and nut paste meant to resemble and commemorate the building of the Egyptian pyramids by enslaved Jews.

Although the charoset ice cream—made of a vanilla ice cream base with cinnamon and wine-steeped apples—is only available in Israel and has been available for at least three years, it has recently taken off due to increased publicity on social media and with Passover fast approaching (it starts on April 3 this year). Keeping this in mind, Ben & Jerry's has made the flavor completely kosher so that it can be enjoyed throughout the eight-day holiday.

The only problem? Kids apparently don't like it very much, and some are not wholly convinced that it's charoset-y enough. When it was first released in 2012, Elli Fischer of The Times of Israel remarked that "It is definitely premium ice cream and quite tasty, but it is not very [c]haroset-y."

The company's Israel Director Avi Singer tells Army Radio that the brand has historically suffered during the month of Passover—called Pesach in Israel—since most of its products are not kosher (though a Matzah Crunch flavor enjoyed some success in 2008). This issue spawned the idea that maybe the company should further embrace its Israeli audience by innovating flavors specifically formulated for Jewish holidays.

And now, the charoset ice cream has really taken off, even being touted on social media by US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. "To our surprise, hysteria has developed around it," Singer says. "People uploaded pictures of it to the web, and folks are convinced that it is available in the US and Europe as well, so we get requests from everywhere."

And for those stateside who are prepping their Passover pantries, there's Chozen, a New York-based ice cream brand that specializes in kosher, Jewish-holiday-themed varieties—think Chocolate Gelt, Ronne's Rugelach, and Apples & Honey.

Shalom, makers of ice cream, and thanks for all of the scoops.