For merchants, 'Thanksgivukkah' has a nice ring to it

10:24 PM, Nov 14, 2013   |    comments
Asher Weintraub, 9, came up with the idea for the "Menurkey,” a turkey-shaped menorah. (Photo: Anthony Weintraub)
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Take some turkey, add some challah bread and mix in dozens of social media feeds - and a dash of holiday season anticipation.

The result: a recipe for sales success.

This year's rare convergence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah has brought about a cornucopia of money-making opportunities for large and small businesses.

The last time the overlap occurred was 1888. The next time will be more than 78,000 years from now, according to a calculation by physicist Jonathan Mizrahi. Thanksgiving Day falls on the first full day of the eight-day Hanukkah observance.

Internet sites and store shelves are filling up with items that celebrate the Nov. 28 mash-up of the Festival of Lights and the festival of eating - now called Thanksgivukkah."

There are silver-foil-wrapped chocolate coins that say "Gobble Tov!" Thankgiving-themed menorahs and aprons that show turkeys with yarmulkes on their heads.

This Sunday, online Judaica retailer ModernTribe.com - which is making a brisk business off Thanksgivukkah-themed items - will open a pop-up store in Atlanta to sell products such as an $18 poster that takes a timely twist on the classic "American Gothic" painting. The famed artwork of a farmer and his daughter is reimagined as "American Gothikkah," with the woman dressed as a Pilgrim and the man in Hasidic garb and holding a menorah with nine lit candles instead of a pitchfork.

The popularity of Thanksgivukkah "has been a true surprise," says ModernTribe.com founder Jennie Rivlin Roberts. "It's captured Americans' imagination and people are having a lot of fun with it."

ModernTribe.com customers have snapped up thousands of quirky Thanksgivukkah T-shirts, American Gothikkah posters and turkey-shaped menorahs.

"I expect the next two weeks to be really busy," Rivlin Roberts says.

Kosher-goods maker Manischewitz is capitalizing on the hybrid holiday with an offbeat marketing campaign. It has wacky e-cards and dual-celebration recipes at Thanksgivukah.com and on its social media sites. "I must be a little meshuggenah to have 25 people for Thanksgivukah," proclaims one e-card. "There's no place like home for the Challahdays," says another.

"This is the earliest that Hanukkah is going to come for a very long time," said Rabbi Leib Bolel of the Beth El Jacob synagogue in Des Moines.

With little time to spare, merchants are playing up novel items that will soon be obsolete:

Turkey-shaped menorahs. One popular menorah comes from a very small entrepreneurial group: New York City fourth-grader Asher Weintraub and his family. Asher came up with the idea for a turkey-shaped menorah called a "Menurkey." His parents trademarked the name and raised more than $48,000 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to fund his business. They'll sell 5,000 to 6,000, Asher's father, Anthony, predicts. "It's gone way beyond our imaginations," he says.

Thanksgivukkah-themed clothes. Retailers are selling T-shirts, pajamas and even baby onesies that tie in with the day. A hot ModernTribe.com seller is a Woodstock-festival inspired T-shirt with a turkey sitting on the neck of a guitar and the words "8 Days of Light, Liberty & Latkes."

Greeting cards and gift wrap. Those who fully want to embrace the hybrid holiday (and aren't afraid of overkill) can wrap up their Thanksgivukkah-themed gifts with Thanksgivukkah-themed paper -- and add on a Thanksgivukkah-themed greeting card. Gift wrap options for sale on Zazzle.com include one with images of a dreidel that has a turkey head and another that has a turkey with Hanukkah candles coming out of its tail feathers.

Fun food. Zucker Bakery in New York City is selling spiced pumpkin doughnuts with three fillings: turkey and gravy, turkey and cranberry sauce or just cranberry sauce. It also has a sweet potato doughnut filled with a toasted marshmallow cream. They're deemed "stuff-ganiyot" - a play on the Hanukkah doughnut treat sufganiyot, the "stuff" suggesting stuffing, says bakery co-owner Melissa Feit.

Contributing: Sharyn Jackson, The Des Moines Register; the Associated Press


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