Holy bacon! Burger King uses Orthodox ad to tout kosher version

At the bottom of the ad, in lettering and grammar meant to resemble a biblical verse, are the words, "And may the house be filled with the smell of turkey bacon."

A Burger King in Israel (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Burger King in Israel
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Burger King has found yiddishkeit. It is advertising new burgers with “kosher bacon” by showing an ultra-Orthodox young man with peyot (sidelocks) indulging in what looks like that most forbidden of un-kosher treats, and using parodies of biblical verses and Orthodox phrases.
The man walks into a Burger King, orders a Bacon King burger and gives his name as Melech, Hebrew for “king,” showing an identity card that gives his name as Melech Zilbershlag.
“Great,” says the server. “Can you put the tomato on the side? So it doesn’t touch the burger?” Melech asks. He adds the Hebrew words, “shomer negiah,” meaning, “observant of touch,” a phrase that refers to those who do not touch members of the opposite sex who aren’t their spouse or immediate family, even for such casual contact as handshaking.
The server is flummoxed for a moment, but then smiles, saying, “Melech.” But as Melech sits down to enjoy his Bacon King, he recites a parody of a blessing on food: “Blessed be the fruit of the bacon” and hears a booming voice from above calling his name.
He looks up, saying, “Tateh?”, Yiddish for daddy. “It’s not what you think!” he says, looking guilty. But it turns out to be the server, telling him he has forgotten his fries.
At the end, an announcer’s voice touts the new line of bacon burgers as “100% Kosher.” The chain offers Bacon King, Double Bacon King and Shnitzel Bacon King burgers. Satisfied, Melech looks up and cites in Hebrew Psalms 92:5 meaning, “How great are your works,” and adds, “Tateh,” looking up at his heavenly father.
On its website and in advertising, Burger King lures – or teases? – Orthodox Israelis with two slogans. In large letters, the words, “B, Bay, Bacon Meushan,” appear, which translates to “B, bay, smoked bacon,” but which is a play on the slogan that is wildly popular with Breslov hassidim, who venerate their late spiritual leader, Rabbi Nahman. Breslov followers paint and graffiti the slogan, “Na Nah Nahman MeUman” – which refers to the fact that their rabbi was buried in Uman, Ukraine – in virtually every corner of Israel.
Many newly-religious choose to join the Breslov sect, which is highly visible due to their colorfully decorated vans blasting trance music. Followers jump out of the vans and dance ecstatically, inviting passersby to join in. Many also pair peyot with ordinary street clothes – rather than black suits and hats that other hassidic sects favor – which is just how Melech is dressed in the video.
This makes sense, because those born Orthodox have never tasted bacon – since pork meat is strictly forbidden by Jewish law – unless they went through a rebellious phase. Pig meat is not sold in any ordinary Israeli grocery stores or delis, since the vast majority of the Israeli public are Jews and Muslims, and both religions forbid such foods.
At one time, the only place in Jerusalem to buy bacon or ham was in Christian delis in the Old City. But with the influx of less observant Russian Jews in the early 1990s, Russian-oriented stores that sell ham and bacon have proliferated.
Still, while it’s easier today to get a hold of these foods, Israelis have to go out of their way to get them, and relatively few do. But newly religious Jews who may have grown up enjoying this un-kosher food may miss it. Burger King is banking on this, as well as the hope that many religious Jews may have longed to try bacon.
At the bottom of the ad, in lettering and grammar meant to resemble a biblical verse, are the words, “And may the house be filled with the smell of turkey bacon.”
And maybe it will. There is a trend all over Israel of adding substitutes for non-kosher food, such as turkey bacon and faux crab and lobster made of haddock, to eateries with kosher menus – as well as meatless burgers meant to taste like meat.
But it’s too early to tell if the bacon burgers are a hit.
A reporter from Ynet, who tried the Bacon King, found it “a disappointment” that tasted nothing like the real thing. A reporter from the Mako website was more charitable, saying that if you were willing to “say goodbye to the memory of bacon and pork,” the turkey bacon wasn’t bad.
Perhaps the chain, famous for the phrase, “Have It Your Way,” has indeed found a way to sell bacon to the Israelites.