MILWAUKEE – First Fox Point resident Jeff Ziebelman started up a health-conscious condiments business, then he got his Jeff’s Zauerkraut and Jeffs’s Vegan Zimchi into some major supermarkets. Now, he’s taking it kosher.
Ziebelman was in sales when he started four years ago. Today, he’s got a business, employing about a half-dozen part-time workers in a Milwaukee kitchen.
This is a product, by the way, that invites puns, so brace your-zelf.
Each of the Zymbiotics brands has a ‘Z’ usurping some other consonant’s place in a word, like ‘Zimchi’ instead of Korean kimchi. The Z-laden products are distributed to more than 200 stores, including Sendik’s Food Market, Outpost Natural Foods, Whole Foods Market and Festival Foods. Four of the company’s five products started getting kosher labels in September, thanks to certification from Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin. In addition to the Zaurkraut and Vegan Zimchi, look for newly kosher-certified Beetz and Ginger Zarrots.
You may put zee (sorry) condiments on a hot dog or just eat a couple tablespoons daily for the health benefits, Ziebelman said. The products are naturally fermented foods and are both prebiotic and probiotic, he added. There are reports that such foods offer health benefits, including improved digestion and aid for acid reflux.
Ziebelman’s grandfather Samuel Ziebelman once wrote for the Chronicle and The Forward and held a Yiddish radio show. Samuel, who died in 1959, owned a Yiddish resort in Oconomowoc, the Pine Terrace.
Yes, yes, “Zauerkraut” is similar to Yiddish for sauerkraut, but Ziebelman didn’t actually know that when he named it. Oy, how zany!
He regrets that his Jeff’s Zimchi is not kosher, but given that it includes fish sauce, he found it harder to pull off. “I sat there for days struggling with how to work it out,” he said.
And he does offer a kosher zalternative: Jeff’s Vegan Zimchi.
He’s chosen to take most of his line kosher for two reasons. The first came to him as he was out promoting his product in stores. “Part of it is, as a Jew, it was a bit of a shame to me that people came up and walked by a product that I feel is good for them and they can’t have it,” he said. He reports he’s heard multiple times, “I wish it was kosher.”
“That was a heartfelt reason,” he said. “It bothered me.”
The other reason he’s taking his products kosher is that he sees the kosher and vegan markets as tight markets that are linked. So it’s also a business decision, perhaps on the path to many more sales, maybe even a zillion.
* * *
Newly kosher products, produced locally by Zymbiotics:
- Jeff’s Beetz
- Jeff’s Ginger Zarrots
- Jeff’s Zauerkraut
- Jeff’s Vegan Zimchi
More info: ZymbioticsLlc.com