If you've noticed Coca-Cola bottles with yellow-colored caps materialize each March and April, what you're looking at is the result of a burgeoning market in kosher for Passover soda. Jews don't eat products made from wheat, corn or many other grains during the eight days of Passover. So most commercial sodas, with their heavy doses of corn syrup and traces of alcohol from grain, are forbidden.
Thirsty Passover observers have an Atlanta-based Orthodox rabbi, Tobias Geffen, to thank. In the 1930s, Geffen was given Coca-Cola's famously secret list of ingredients and managed to persuade the company to create a real-sugar alternative for his congregants. "Because Coca-Cola has already been accepted by the general public in this country and Canada and because it has become an insurmountable problem to induce the great majority of Jews to refrain from partaking of this drink, I have tried earnestly to find a method of permitting its usage," he said.
According to one of the leading kosher certifiers, OU Kosher, Passover Coke will be available this year throughout the New York City metropolitan area, Boston, Baltimore-Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. And since some foodies think cane-sugar-sweetened sodas taste better anyway, it isn't just the devout who stock up. Not wanting to be left out, Pepsi, Sprite, Sierra Mist and many others are now available in kosher form for Passover.