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Kosher Quest

Barbara Bensoussan

If that jar of fancy pasta sauce or long-uncertified candy suddenly sports a welcoming OU hechsher, chances are, Phyllis Koegel was there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

People who didn’t grow up eating kosher food often express nostalgia for the seemingly innocuous treats they enjoyed as children — rainbow-colored jelly beans, nutty candy bars, maybe a bag of corn chips. Most of that kid-friendly nosh had no certification back in the day, even though often many of the ingredients were kosher. How frustrating for a newly kosher consumer to read a list of perfectly acceptable-sounding ingredients and not be able to chomp into a once-beloved snack! EnterPhyllisKoegel, the marketing director of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division. Known to her friends and colleagues as a woman with a big heart and an even bigger smile,Phyllis is a woman with a mission: to convince as many food companies as she can to “convert” to kosher through the OU. Those kiddie pleasures? Jelly Belly jelly beans, Tootsie Rolls, and many others are now OU-certified, thanks to Phyllis’s tireless efforts. But despite her self-confessed weakness for nosh,Phyllis’s range extends far beyond snack foods. If a product has the potential to be kosher,Phyllis will be the first one out there to collar the manufacturer and tell him what good business sense it makes for him to add that little OU symbol to his packaging. 

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