It’s either the perfect treat for interfaith families or the ultimate Chanukah surprise: Santa Claus is coming to town in the disguise of a Jewish freedom fighter.
ModernTribe is selling kosher milk chocolate Maccabees from gourmet New York chocolatier Madelaine for 50 cents apiece. The foil wrapping on the 2-inch-long candy portrays a classic if generic Jewish soldier from ancient times: pointed helmet, black beard, Star of David shield on one arm, short sword in the other. At a glance, you don’t know whether you’re looking at Judah, one of his brothers or just one of their men, but you’re sure it’s an image to give Antiochus IV nightmares.
But a closer look offers a clue that something sinister might be afoot: The Jewish soldier is left-handed.
As ModernTribe owner Jennie Rivlin Roberts discovered in mid-November, however, the real secret is revealed when the foil is removed: The chocolate itself is in the shape of that jolly old elf St. Nick, from his fur-lined hat and coat with the familiar buckle to his long beard and tubby belly.
It turns out that the supplier, perhaps still in recovery mode from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, decided it wasn’t worth the expense of new Maccabee molds for the chocolate, so it just used Santa molds.
Rivlin Roberts disclosed the Christmas surprise on the online catalog page for the chocolate and offered refunds to those who unknowingly bought the Maccabee-wrapped Santas. Reactions on Facebook ranged from amused to angry.