Professor Gross on Crisco and Jews: It's a Story '4,000 Years' in the Making

Monday, March 02, 2020
Image of old advertisement with Crisco can and product with slogan Crisco -- better than butter for cooking

J. (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Rachel B. Gross is an assistant professor and the John and Marcia Goldman Chair of American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. The J. newspaper published an excerpt from her chapter in “Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food.”

“I’m interested in Crisco because I’m interested in the everyday, seemingly nonsectarian materials that Jews use to create their Jewish lives. And, frankly, it’s funny to think about hydrogenated cottonseed oil as a Jewish food,” Gross wrote.

“But there’s good reason to think about Crisco as Jewish food. Harris Neil’s ‘Story of Crisco’ was part of a decades-long campaign by Procter and Gamble to convince American home cooks, including Ashkenazi Jews, to substitute Crisco for traditional animal fats.”