The Twin Cities has two major suppliers of boneless, skinless kosher chicken breasts: Aaron’s and Empire. In typical consumer fashion, I am loyal to one of these two brands, Empire. I have bought Aaron’s kosher chicken ONCE in my lifetime, and have exclusively purchased Empire kosher chicken, until two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago I wandered into Trader Joe’s in search of my Empire kosher chicken breasts. I walked past the fruit and vegetables, scanned the trail mix and dried fruit selection (that dried mango is hard to skip, am I right?) and made my way into the clump of people selecting their meat. Usually, when I get my Kosher chicken I have the section to myself so I can take my time carefully selecting which packages I want to purchase. But, two weeks ago, the meat section was packed, I thought to myself, “maybe everyone is doing their Rosh Hashanah shopping today.” Imagine my surprise when I finally pushed my way through the crowd to find it filled with trief chicken! I scanned the meat section a few times in disbelief.
I immediately walked away to find a Trader Joe’s team member to inquire about the location of the Empire kosher chicken. When I found a nice man in his Hawaiian shirt I was informed that it been pulled from the shelves for a safety inspection. Even worse, there was no telling when it would be back! I left Trader Joe’s chicken-less.
Five days after the Empire incident I was sitting down to Rosh Hashanah dinner at a friend’s house and overheard her whispering to someone, “I wasn’t able to get any more Empire kosher chicken this year. I had to make vegetable soup instead of Chicken soup.” “Why?” her friend asked in wonder. “Empire chicken was recalled for a salmonella outbreak!” she exclaimed, “and on Rosh Hashana, to make things worse.”
A kosher chicken recall on Rosh Hashanah is like Cadbury recalling their chocolate eggs or a Honey Baked Ham recall the week of Easter. What a balagan! I am anxiously awaiting Empire’s big return to the shelves because Aaron’s kosher chicken just does not do it for me. Hopefully, before Thanksgiving, otherwise many Jews will be going vegetarian in November this year.
As an aside: I did purchase Aaron’s chicken for a second (and third) time because a girls gotta eat. Additionally, I sincerely hope those who are sickened by Empire chicken have their health restored and their spirit revived in 5779.