The Jew Review: The Battle Over Bamba

A Bamba Ballad

By Libby Parker

If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll know this about me: even though I have only actually lived in Israel for less than two years of my life, I consider myself to be genuinely, be’emet Israeli. (For further reading on this topic, see this, this, and this.) Hummus basically courses through my veins and I get teary-eyed at every rendition of HaTikvah.

So, like any good Israeli-born child, I have, if not a fondness, then at least a nostalgia, for Bamba, the ubiquitous peanut puff that’s as common in every Israeli convenience and grocery store as tater tots in Minnesota households.

And, thanks to a not-so-secret partnership with Osem, the Israeli manufacturer of the real Bamba, I can now get my peanut snack fix anytime I’m near a Trader Joe’s. And to that I say,
ברוך השם.

I’m not sure whether it’s at all different in any way from the ‘real’ stuff – or if it’s just my memories talking through my taste buds, I think the Trader Joe’s version might even be better. Either way, I love everything about the snack: the flavor, the texture, the peanut dust it leaves on your fingers, the fact that it’s easy to justify eating it at just about any hour of the day or night. Also peanuts = protein so obviously, it’s a healthy snack.

And in case you missed it, a bonus reason to love Bamba: there are actually studies that show that Israeli kids have a lower incidence of peanut allergy – and a higher IQ – than their American counterparts because their parents feed them Bamba in infancy. OK I totally made up that part about the IQ but it worked for me.

Bamba: If Styrofoam Were Edible

By Lonny Goldsmith

Imagine you had a food that looked like a big fluffy Cheetoh without the awesome fake-cheese taste. Welcome to Bamba.

The Facebook hype train for this snack has gone off the rails since Twin Cities’ Trader Joe’s started carrying the food. Apparently a huge hit in Israel made by Osem, Bamba is a peanut-flavored Cheetoh-looking thing.

And it’s gross. There: I said it so you don’t have to.

I concede it may be a super-unpopular opinion. At least according to my Israel-born boss, who was positively giddy when rumors of Trader Joe’s having these in stock surfaced.

Frankly, I don’t get the allure. If you want a peanut snack, can I introduce you to peanuts? You don’t even need to go through the work of cracking the shell (which while more work is SO satisfying); buy the bag! How about peanut butter? Filling, healthy, and doesn’t taste like Styrofoam packing peanuts coated in peanut dust. Save your 99 cents.