We’ve been asked if our popcorn is kosher and specifically: is popcorn kosher for Passover?.
Well, the answer to the first question is “yes”. JustPoppin.com popcorn kernels are kosher. While the cost of kosher certification is prohibitive for us at this time, we’ve talked with a number of certifying organizations who have told us that without a doubt, because our popcorn kernels are raw and not cooked or heated in any fashion, they are kosher by default. They are kosher in the same way they’d be if you grew the corn in your own back yard. In fact, our popcorn is processed on equipment that ONLY processes popcorn, so there is no chance of it coming into contact with any other product.
Now, answering the second question (and yes, only two questions and not four, even though it’s Passover), “is our popcorn kosher for Passover?”, is a bit more complicated because the answer is both “yes” AND “no”. It really depends on how you roll, rabbinically speaking. You see, Jewish law specifically prohibits the eating of what’s known as chametz, which is food based on one of the “five grains” – wheat, spelt, barley, oats, and rye. Folks of the Sephardic persuasion keep to this prohibition and for them it stops there. So things like corn, popcorn, rice, beans, lentils and such are acceptable to Sephardic Jews at Passover. So if you’re Sephardic and want to pop in a DVD after seder and pop up some JustPoppin.com popcorn to snack on (if you have any room left after dinner!) then go right ahead. We have it on good authority that you are not in violation of Passover kosher rites.
On the other hand…if you are of traditional Ashkenazi descent, then your custom is to avoid other grains and legumes in addition to those spelled out as chametz. The other grains and legumes have been called “kitniyot” (pronounced kit-neeh-oat) and include corn, popcorn, rice, millet, beans, lentils, etc. The belief behind this prohibition is that these other grains are too similar to the “five grains” and so eating them gives an impression of trying to get around the law. And so the Ashkenazi decided not to split hairs and just banned everything even remotely similar to chametz. So if you live in the Ashkenazi tradition, sorry but popcorn is not kosher for Passover for you.
We hope this clears things up for our Jewish customers and for those who aren’t Jewish but are interested in learning new and interesting things about the traditions of other people. Regardless of whether or not popcorn is kosher for you at this time of year, we wish you the best for the holiday.
P.S. JustPoppin.com Popping Sorghum is kosher and like our popcorn, falls into the category of kitniyot with respect to Passover.