Sabra’s Super Bowl Commercial Gets Hummus All Wrong

Get your bananas and beef jerky away from my hummus.

Obviously the best parts of the Super Bowl are the commercials and the snacks — unless you’re taking snack advice from Sabra, that is. 

The hummus manufacturer — which, as of 2016, had gained a 60% market share of hummus in the U.S. — contracted an army of celebs to promote its various hummus flavors, including Roasted Red Pepper, Chocolate, and Spinach-Artichoke. Each star — including rapper T-Pain, former professional wrestler Ric Flair, social media star Doug the Pug, and Real Housewife Teresa Giudice — proudly exhibited their dipping vessel of choice. 

This is where things started to go horribly wrong. 

Now, I’ll admit, I’m not an American so maybe I just don’t “get it”  — but I do live in Israel, a country completely devoted to hummus, where no one would dream of “dipping” anything into it (more on that later), especially not celery, banana, pizza, or beef jerky. These are only a few examples of the monstrosities that were featured in the commercial, and each one hurt more than the last. (I’ll make an exception for Jewish drag queen Miz Cracker, who was featured eating her Sabra hummus with, naturally, a cracker, because she is fabulous and it’s about time we saw such inclusivity and diversity in Super Bowl ads.)

Here’s the thing: Israelis eat hummus with one of three things — freshly baked pita, slices of raw onion (it really aids digestion), or a fork. There are no other options. 

Photo credit Rush Jagoe

Now that we have that sorted, onto the next issue: the hashtag. Sabra attempted to coin a new verb for eating hummus with the hashtag #HowIMmus — perhaps a marketing attempt, a colleague pointed out, made for those who can’t pronounce the “hu” in “hummus” (BTW, it’s a guttural “hoo” followed by “moose”).  

Problem is, such a verb already exists: lenagev. In Hebrew, it means “to wipe,” which takes us nicely back to issue #1: No self-respecting Israeli would ever dip anything into hummus. Dipping is too dainty, the ratios turn out wrong. You need to wipe the bowl of hummus in a clockwise direction with a strong wrist twist to get as much hummus on either your pita or onion slice as possible. The point is to eat as much hummus with as little of anything else as you can — I have a friend who can eat an entire bowl of hummus with half a pita. He is a local hero.

Which brings me to my final qualm: Hummus is not a snack, it’s a meal. Its protein-heavy goodness is designed to give you the energy to get through a day of hard manual labor, which is why in the Middle East it’s only ever eaten at breakfast or lunch. 

Now, admittedly, if commercial hummus like Sabra is all you know, you may not want to make an entire meal of it — why not try making your own hummus instead? It’s not only healthier but infinitely more tasty. Just please don’t eat it with bananas.  

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