worst jewish food pop culture moments
Image design by Mollie Suss

The Worst Jewish Food Moments in Pop Culture

A decade of disappointment.

There’s nothing like seeing Jewish food represented in pop culture… except when those moments are a big letdown. At The Nosher, we take Jewish food seriously, so it’s both sad and funny for us when Jewish food is massacred in pop culture, whether it’s because of someone’s outlandish Jewish food take, misrepresentation of Jewish food or plain old disrespect. We rounded up the worst Jewish food moments in pop culture from the last decade for you to laugh, gag and cringe at. 

1. Cynthia Nixon’s Bagel Order

Few things united New Yorkers and New York Jews more than when “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon revealed her bagel order during her campaign for New York Governor in 2018: lox, capers, red onion, tomato, cream cheese… on a cinnamon raisin bagel. The order was captured by the digital outlet Gothamist while with Nixon at Zabar’s, the iconic Jewish deli on the Upper West Side. Reporters swarmed Nixon at Grand Central Terminal about it. The Washington Post demanded we “Lox Her Up.” Some even debated whether her controversial order would cost her the election

How they could’ve made it right: Holding a press conference giving a public apology. 

2. Paul Hollywood’s “Passover Cholla” Recipe

Nope, this isn’t a typo. In the fifth season of the “Great British Bake Off,” Jews around their world did a collective facepalm when the judges presented a technical challenge for the bakers for something called a “plaited loaf”… which was indisputably challah. After backlash on X, formerly known as Twitter, one user found a recipe for a “cholla loaf” in one of GBBO judge Paul Hollywood’s cookbooks. Not only is the recipe mind-boggling because of its non-traditional use of milk and butter, but it describes the bread as a “class Jewish loaf… traditionally served at Passover…” aka the one Jewish holiday where Jews don’t eat bread. Now how can you mess up a recipe description that badly?

How they could’ve made it right: Call a challah a challah and get a fact-checker. 

3. Barbara Streisand’s Controversial Jewish Food Opinions

The release of Jewish icon Barbara Steisand’s memoir “My Name is Barbra” last year included some surprising revelations about her opinions of Jewish food. Notably, she admitted that she prefers Gentile delis to Jewish ones, saying that the Jewish ones “gave you too much meat.” She also thinks that Hershey’s syrup is better in egg creams than Fox’s U-Bet. 

How they could’ve made it right: Know your audience, Babs. 

4. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Butcher Blunder 

In the pilot of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Midge orders lamb from a butcher, which she plans to serve to her rabbi for Yom Kippur break fast. Not only would meat not typically be served for such a meal in Midge’s Ashkenazi New York community, but the woman next to her in line says she’s ordering pork chops, implying that the butcher isn’t kosher.

How they could’ve made it right: Have Midge stop by a Jewish bakery to pick up dessert for the break fast instead.

 5. Mrs. Maisel’s Matzah Meal Mistake

In the second episode of the first season, Midge’s mother-in-law is critiquing the Weissman family’s cooking when she pulls chicken soup out of their freezer, saying that she left it there the last time she was at their apartment. She then asks, “Do you have any matzah meal? Never mind, I have some in my purse.” Reader, no one just happens to have matzah meal in their purse. And is portraying a stereotype of an overbearing Jewish mother/mother-in-law necessary?  

How they could’ve made it right: Idk, delete the scene? It seems unnecessary all around. 

6. #Bagelgate

This moment generated so much negative attention that the term is even in Dictionary.com’s Pop Culture Dictionary, defined as referring “to a viral Twitter post in March 2019 showing bagels sliced ‘St. Louis-style,’ like a loaf bread.” Instead of the bagels being sliced in half horizontally, they’re sliced in thin strips vertically, as shown in a tweet by @AlekKrrautmann. It caught the internet by storm and while some thought the idea was ingenious, many rightfully condemned it.

How they could’ve made it right: Order a piece of toast instead and leave this beloved Jewish icon alone. 

7. Buzzfeed’s “Jewish Food Taste Test” Video 

This video from Buzzfeed’s YouTube channel has over 8 million views but we kind of wish it didn’t. In it, participants taste test (and make fun of) a selection of poorly-chosen Jewish food. The video seems like an attempt to laugh at how gross Jewish food is, from the Yiddish music in the background to the samplings of pungent Ashkenazi foods like chopped liver and gefilte fish. 

How they could’ve made it right: Sub out chopped liver and gefilte fish for some of the delicious foods global Jewish cuisine has to offer, like lachmagine or bumuelos. 

8. Scooped Bagels on TikTok

We have one last bagel crime to end this list: TikTok user and Los Angeles native Taylor Offer went viral in fall 2023 for complaining about how a New York City bagel shop refused to make his regular bagel order: a “scooped, gluten-free” bagel that he could order with ease in LA. Of course, New Yorkers rallied around the bagel shop’s defense.

How they could’ve heard it right: Hey, ever heard of a mini bagel?

Keep on Noshing

Top Chef’s Gail Simmons Shares Powerful Words of Jewish Pride and Grief

Simmons' shared strong and resonant words on social media recently.

The Jewish Foods That Inspire Susan Alexandra’s Whimsical Art

Memories of Jewish deli and summer watermelon have influenced the brand's colorful art and jewelry.