Touring the Streit’s Matzo Factory Ahead of Passover Holiday [PHOTOS]
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We take comfort in the knowledge that purchasing matzo at Streit’s is the true definition of shopping local. Peep that pink label and you’ll note the address of 148-154 Rivington is stamped on each box. To call the tenement factory a Lower East Side mainstay is an understatement. The fifth-generation family business has been cooking the goods at this same address since 1925. And as usual, these few weeks running up to the Passover holiday are an all-out dash to the finish line. Baking and dough-rolling is full throttle, ovens are gassed, and boxing machinery cranking out the shipments.
Streit’s is reportedly responsible for 40% of the unleavened bread circulating in this country. Yet you wouldn’t necessarily expect that after walking through this (kosher) four-building factory-slash-warehouse. It’s an old school industrial production complex with custom machinery that easily seduces those who enter.
Seriously, how can you not love a seventy-year-old machine that boxes the matzo and machine-guns glue onto lids for sealing? Or the oldest piece in the plant – dated 1920s – whose sole purpose is packaging five-pound parcels for shipment. Or the intricate dough roller from 1939 that feeds into a convection oven at 900 degrees.
On a recent afternoon, the Streit’s employees were kind enough to walk us through the facility, explaining in giddy detail the mechanical minutiae on each floor. While we salivated to the aroma of freshly baked dough.
The dough is forged on floors two and four using industrial sized mixers, and then delivered to one and three respectively for baking. Final stop on the assembly line is a chain-linked basket ride to the boxing machine on the second level. Then it’s out the door and onto your Seder table.
That’s the basics, for now. An in-depth look at the Streit’s empire is on the way, thanks to the new documentary by filmmaker Michael Levine called Matzo and the American Dream. Donate here to help the cause.