We are living in a golden age of Pesach products – an age where there are products that our grandparents never would have dreamed of. Especially our grandparents in Mitzrayim. I’m sure they were like, “If only there was a towel that we could use for Urchatz. All the towels we usually use for washing have “Al Netilas Yadayim” written on them, but for Urchatz, we don’t say, “Al Netilas Yadayim.” What do we do?”
I don’t know. You have 85 towels in your house that don’t say, “Al Netilas Yadayim.”
But no, nowadays they make a special towel for Urchatz, and it has to say “Urchatz”, because what the else could it say?
WHAT THEY SHOULD SELL INSTEAD: A towel for cleaning up wine spills on the Seder table that says something like, “Shefoch Chamascha Al Hagoyim.”
And then, of course, there are the Bedikas Chometz kits with ten pieces of bread. I think that’s silly, but that could just be a generational thing. I bet in the old days, our grandparents thought it was ridiculous that we had a set that had a feather, a candle, and a spoon. They were like, “You don’t have any spoons in the house? Or candles? Or feathers?” Nowadays, we actually don’t have feathers, because we no longer have chickens, and catching a wild bird so we can pluck a feather is not something we feel like we need to add to our months-long Pesach preparation. The yeshivas can’t very well send out packages that just contain a feather.
But now they’re saying, “You know what we’re missing? The bread!” So that if someone forgets to use their kit, they have chometz in their house over Pesach. Or, if a yeshiva sends them out late, half of them could get to people’s houses on Pesach. This sounds like a humorous, low-key terrorist plot for a children’s story tape.
WHAT THEY SHOULD SELL INSTEAD: A biur chometz kit for a change, featuring matches, lighter fluid that actually lights, and an old lulav.
There’s also a singing Haggadah for kids (I’m assuming it’s for kids) that has buttons that you push to hear all the songs of the Seder, which is great to use any time except the actual Seder, because it has buttons. And it might not be spill-proof. Why not just get a remote-controlled matzah cover that opens and closes from the other end of the table, like a garage door? Or a vibrating lulav holder that shakes itself? Or a shofar with an amp? They’re great; you just can’t use them on Yom Tov. Unless you want to have a very weird conversation with your Shabbos Goy.
WHAT THEY SHOULD SELL INSTEAD: A dancing Haggadah? Maybe a Haggadah that remembers all of your family’s personal minhagim about everything so you don’t have to argue about them every year.
There are also a bunch of products out there designed to make our Seder more fun. I don’t know what’s supposed to make all the other meals fun. I could definitely use something for leftover night.
When I was a kid, the fun of the Seder came from visiting relatives, staying up hours later than your bedtime and your parents saying nothing about it, the afikoman situation, the faces everyone else makes during Marror, the various versions of illustrated Haggadas, licking our pinkies after the makkos, and the fact that, as we repeated over and over again, we were not slaves. But nowadays, they’re trying to convince us that the Seder has to be fun, because Maggid is long. I’ve got news for you: Maggid is only long because of the kids. We’re trying to tell them a story, and they keep interrupting with things their rebbi told them.
“Why does your rebbi keep taking my mitzvah? Let him get his own kids.”
But every single one of the “fun” items they sell focuses on the makkos, which, to be honest, is not the longest part of the seder. Except maybe in page count. It takes ten seconds, every Haggadah has pictures, and we get to splash around in the wine with our hands. And our parents can’t say anything!
Also, the makkos, as they were happening, were not actually fun for everybody. I mean, we’re spilling out wine to show that we’re not so happy about this part. But bring out the toys!
So for example, you can buy a Basket of Plagues to show your kids what a blast the makkos were back then. And to spend a half hour on ten words of the Haggadah. There are actually several versions of makkos toys, including makkos puppets made out of paper bags, for like ten bucks. And when you’re done, they double as afikoman bags.
“Where’s the afikoman?”
“In the lice.”
And then there are all the Pesach products that specifically feature frogs. Just the one Makkah. That’s the one we chose. Number two. For example, there are:
- Frog-shaped straws. For your wine? To siphon wine out of your cup for the makkos?
- A frog spatula, for taking frogs out of the oven.
- A Frog-shaped ice cube tray – in case you want ice in your wine. I don’t know; maybe there should be an ice shape for each makkah. The ones I have at home are just Barad. And only half of Barad, really.
- Wind-up frogs that swim around. Great for the mikvah! If you want to incorporate them into your Seder, I guess you would put them in the salt water.
- Squirting frogs. Just fill with wine! Or salt water! Do not use near the candles. Or the matzah. Or the haggadas. Why are they selling this?
Looking at all these products, you’d think that the Pesach holiday was like 90% about frogs. These frogs are invading everywhere!
Okay, now I know how the Egyptians felt.
You would think the main point of Pesach is frogs. We worked for 210 years, people died, but for one week there, there were frogs. And these frogs were disgusting and loud. They weren’t cute and smiley with little crowns, or the Egyptians would have been like, “Awwwwwww…” Cute smiley frogs? That’s a makkah? In fact, if you’re looking for a cute animal mascot to represent Pesach, I think sheep had more of a role in the story. And they went in the ovens too!
WHAT THEY SHOULD SELL INSTEAD: We can have more realistic depictions of the makkos that are not whimsical toys:
- Dam – Before yom tov, add a red pigment to your house’s water supply. What is it? No one knows.
- Tzefardeya – I think you can actually order a box of frogs. Biology teachers do.
- Kinim – Lice from your kids’ school.
- Arov – Just casually mention, during Maggid, that there’s a loose pet in the house. Preferably some kind of rodent or snake.
- Dever – Find some roadkill and leave it lying around outside the house. Contrast it with the live animals that are loose IN the house.
- Shechin – When preparing your menu, play it fast and loose with the allergies of the people at the table.
- Barad – Barad-shaped ice cubes! With jalapenos in them.
- Arbeh – You can order these too.
- Choshech – Set a timer for the lights to go out halfway through the Seder. Good luck looking for the afikoman!
- Makkas Bechoros – Give your oldest son malkos. You might not know what he did to deserve it, but he knows what he did.
Anyway, everything you need should come in one fun bag – a belt, red dye #8, a live snake, an ice cube tray, a box of frogs and locusts, lice…
On a similar note, there’s also an entire matzah-print industry that’s a little out of hand. There’s even a matzah-print stress ball. A stress ball is great for Pesach, and what better way to take it out than on something that represents gebrukts – one of the main sources of stress? And also the stress of wondering what’s in a stress ball, because one of my kids made one in school once, and the teacher put in flour.
“Keep it off the table!”
It’s possible that’s not what’s in there, but you can’t cut it open to find out, on Pesach. Is there flour inside? That’s more stress. Is there matzah meal in it? That would be hilarious.
WHAT THEY SHOULD SELL INSTEAD: Once we’re making Pesach versions of chometz craft projects, can we also make macaroni necklaces out of potato starch macaroni? Or make potato-starch play dough?
But one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen was a T-shirt that says, “Karpas diem.”
It’s a pun; get it? Because carpe diem!
Okay, it’s not even a pun. Puns have double meanings. This does not. All this does it remind people of a word in a different language that has zero shaichos. “Carpe diem” means “Seize the day.” So what does “Karpas diem” mean? “Seize the vegetable”? No, because diem doesn’t mean seize, it means day. “Vegetables the day”? “Vegetable day”?! Do you eat vegetables one day a year, just for the mitzvah, that you’re so excited that it’s Vegetable Day?
Also, it’s night. I feel like the Haggadah is very clear about this.
WHAT THEY SHOULD SELL INSTEAD: Why not a T-shirt that says nothing, for Urchatz? Or maybe some other ridiculous puns that make no sense, such as:
- “Kadesh d’rabbonon”
- “Korech v’chal adaso”
- A shirt for the second night that says, “ט”ז Shulchan Orech!”
- “YOLO v’yavo!”
- “I had a little kneidel (I made it out of potato-starch play-dough)”
- And some kind of mother-in-law joke about Shefoch Chamascha al Hagoyim.
So what products do you think should exist for Pesach? Write in, so I have something to write about next year. Vegetables the day!