Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Annual Passover Rant

Went to Stop & Shop and Shaw's yesterday to stock up on Passover food (the holiday starts Wednesday night). It's one of those necessary evils that I tend to postpone until the last minute every year. Why? It's not that I am anti-Passover or anything, nor is it that I am a procrastinator (well, alright, maybe I am a procrastinator). It's that the whole buying of Passover food experience just rubs me the wrong way.

To wit, yesterday I spent about $75 on my various "supplies." We're talking matzah, cake mixes, cookies, mayonaise, grape jelly (sorry, I mean "grape preserves"), gefilte fish, tuna fish, etc. And this doesn't even include the perishables, like eggs, cream cheese, vegetables, milk, and orange juice. By comparison, I generally only spend $30 for each week's groceries.

Stores like Shaw's put out their Passover food a month or so before the holiday and they mark it all with "normal" prices that they then label as being "on sale," as if to capitalize on a horrible stereotype that Jews like their deals and would rather buy something on sale than if it was normally priced. For example, I'd rather they just marked the Manischewitz cake mixes as $3.99 instead of $5.99 with two dollars off. Or the mayonaise as $2.50 instead of $3.99 with $1.49 off. Unfortunately, the stores have a captive market with no choice but to buy this stuff, so they milk it however they can. If you're strict about the holiday, as I am, then you only eat foods labeled as "Kosher for Passover," even if it means replacing ordinary things like vegetable oil that are not labeled as such. I'm sure the only difference between the year-round Chicken of the Sea tuna fish and the Seasons brand tuna fish for Passover use is just the higher price (i.e.: $1 vs $2.50 a can), and yet I still make the investment in the KfP tuna.

Speaking of, I wish the stuff wasn't so expensive to begin with. I get it that Passover food has a limited market so it's expensive to buy and resell, but does a bag of Passover noodles have to be sold for $4 when a bag of normal noodles goes for around $1 — especially since the Passover kind is basically crap anyway? (If you don't know, they're flourless, for starters.) That's just ridiculous and insulting.

And I'm just one person. I was over at Farrah and Barry's last night, and aside from the fact that they're hosting two seders, they are a couple and eat better than I do. I can only imagine how much they (and other couples and families) spent on all their Passover food.

Every year I save my receipts so that when the holiday is over I can head back to Shaw's and exchange my unopened food. I tend to get between $10 and $15 back. Not many people seem to think you can do that, judging by the response I get when I tell people I do it. But in my own small way, this is how I stick it to the man; if you're going to overcharge me for a week's worth of food, then you're going to take back whatever I don't use.

It's a shame that capitalism and greed have to infringe on a religious holiday.

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