Saturday, March 28, 2009
Bye bye, Bartons
Passover candy is one of my favorite things. That's why I was stunned by an article in the New York Jewish Week on Tuesday saying that there will be no Bartons chocolate this Passover. Bartons officials were unavailable for comment, not a good sign. And kosher distributors, who have long had their Passover orders in, are saying that they have nothing from Bartons.
While another business failure is nothing new these days, the passing of Bartons is worth noting. It was founded in 1938 by Stephen Klein, a Viennese chocolatier who came to New York at a very good time for a Viennese Jew to leave Europe. Presentation was key. Klein regarded his shops as boutiques, not stores. Each piece was wrapped in frills and ribbons, and the entire Bartons experience was about pleasure. Also, all of Bartons candy was kosher certified, so it became the gourmet chocolate of the Jewish world. Even the Easter bunnies and chocolate Santas it produced every year were kosher.
The company passed out of family control years ago, and it is now owned by another candy manufacturer. The logo is different and there are now both kosher and non-kosher Bartons lines. According to the Jewish Week article, not only is Bartons on the verge of bankruptcy, but so is its parent company.
To be honest, Bartons is not the candy closest to my heart. You could eat one of those almond kisses on first Seder night and not get all of it out of your teeth until the last day of the festival. But this Passover, I am living in a house that belonged to my Aunt Ruth until her death in the summer of 2007. Aunt Ruth, a great lover of sweets, always had a box of Bartons chocolates on her coffee table. Although I'm sorry she's gone, I'm glad she won't have to go through this Passover without her Bartons Assortment.