Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jewish Willie Wonka imports Advent Calenders for Ramadan, High Holydays, Xmas

Ramadan and Rosh Hashana are upon us.

The man behind the latest craze among religious and chocoholic kids is an Orthodox Jewish grandfather from Manchester.
Food scientist Neville Finlay is the brains behind Britain's most widely-distributed Ramadan calendar, a Muslim twist on the advent calendar. Some 80,000, made by his firm, Forest Tree Foods, are on sale at Asda stores across the UK.

A halal chocolate is tucked under each day's numbered flap, but before you eat it, you are meant to answer a question on the Koran or sharia law - such as "What is the morning prayer called?" and "Who was the last prophet?" Many of these were set by Finlay himself, after a Muslim designer working on the calendar gave him a crash course in Islam. "I've come up with something to help people celebrate Ramadan - this must be good for relations between communities," he says. 15 p from each sale is donated to the Islamic Relief agency

Finlay already has a big share of the halal market. After a lifetime career inventing kosher food lines - including "caviar" and countless sweeties - seven years ago he was persuaded by an Egyptian passenger in an airport lounge to come up with ideas for the halal market, which has similarities to Kosher restrictions.

Finlay's breakthrough came on gummi bears, the popular Haribo jelly sweets from Austria. To do this, he needed to come up with a substitute for animal gelatine, an ingredient banned by Islamic law. He cracked it last November, and began marketing the sweets internationally. They sell 150,000 packets a month in the UK alone, and have earned him the nickname "the Willy Wonka of Manchester".
This year Finlay is catering to three monotheistic religions with more calendars for Ramadan, a traditional Christian advent calendar, and a similar chocolate-stuffed countdown for the run-up to Jewish festivals. Shana Tova/ Ramadan greetings/ How sweet it is when all the festivities converge.

See Nathan Jeffay: The countdown starts here ...

1 comment:

Baraka said...

It is sweet indeed - shanah tovah!