Columns » Kenneth Cleaver

Kenneth Cleaver

Consumer Correspondent


May 8, 2006

Mr. Abraham H. Foxman

National Director

Anti-Defamation League

823 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Foxman,

Let me say that I'm only half-Jewish, so I can't get as angry about this as I'd like.

It's this dumb chain restaurant called Einstein Brothers Bagels. They're owned by a conglomerate called New World Restaurant Group based here in Colorado. The problem isn't that they've taken a fine traditional Jewish baked good and homogenized it into a cheap facsimile of a bagel; it's that ... well ... no wait, that's exactly what it is!

I know, I know, chain restaurants have hijacked every imaginable ethnic niche: Mexican, Chinese, Italian, etc. ... There's even a chain of Irish restaurants as if the Irish had a cuisine worth remembering. (I'm half Irish, so I can make half that joke.)

I realize that with the rise of Iran and the emboldening of radical Islamists in Europe, you probably have your hands full. From what I understand, these folks Jews as much as they do Muhammad cartoons. And I know it's probably unrealistic to prosecute Einstein Brothers for committing a hate crime, but is it feasible for the ADL to put out some sort of position paper against the bastardization of Jewish cuisine?

The problem with chain food is that it's like The Wal-Mart Effect on our palates. When garbage like this is embedded in the popular mind as what a bagel is, standards drop everywhere. What was once sub-mediocre is elevated to normal, and pretty soon people think The Olive Garden is straight outta Sicily. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and this seems as good a place as any.

What do you say?


Kenneth Cleaver

cc: Mr. Paul J.B. Murphy, III, President and CEO, New World Restaurants; Dan J. Dominguez, Chief Operating Officer, New World Restaurants Read the Response.

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