'Dirty Jew' Brand Sunflower Seeds Not Well-Received in San Francisco
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We can look at the old logos for "Darkie" toothpaste or the Frito Bandito and shake our heads and reflect, condescendingly, on a less enlightened time. So whom do we condescend to when we discover that the product pictured here, complete with a sketch of a vile, scheming, hook-nosed Jew straight out of Der Stürmer (or Borat) was removed from San Francisco shelves only this month?
To answer the question likely forming in your mind -- "What the hell is going on here?" -- these seeds are a product of a Russian company called Kremlin Kitchen. The Cyrillic text on the left reads "Shalom from Israel," while that on the right is a slang phrase roughly translating as "Spit them out everywhere" -- a none-too-veiled quip about spitting on "dirty Jews."
Locally, Jewish customers noticed them on the shelves of the New World Market in San Francisco's Richmond District -- and were creeped out. Complaints to the Anti-Defamation League resulted in an angry letter to store-owners Michael and Nonna Sukhovisky -- who are, in fact, Russian Jews. The couple claimed obliviousness and pulled the product.
This is not the first Russian Jewish storeowner who has been shamed and embarrassed by having Shylock-brand seeds on his shelves. Last year, a Russian Jewish shopkeeper in Brooklyn shocked his Jewish customers by tossing in a bag of Kremlin Kitchen seeds as a freebie for grocery purchases of $50 or more; the story even made the New York Post (the headline, by Post standards, was rather pedestrian: "Sunflower Seeds of Hate -- Net Cost Market Sells Bigoted Bags of Snack Foods").
Multiple calls to the New World Market failed to turn up anyone who: A. Would speak to SF Weekly, or; B. Could speak to SF Weekly. A female employee with limited-English-speaking ability who refused to give her name did note that a bag of Kremlin Kitchen seeds "is not big" and costs $3.99.
You know, for a product hoping to appeal via ethnic stereotypes, it warrants mentioning that $3.99 is a bit steep.