Lost in the desert for 40 years, you won’t believe what I was trying to find…

After leaving Egypt, the Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years.  Many a joke has been told of the wandering, many scholars have debated the meaning.  Today, the Jewish people commemorate that important event with a modern day wandering…through the grocery store.


“The Ten Commandments” is the Passover equivalent of “A Christmas Story”.

Passover carries with it some very unique dietary requirements.  3500 years ago, the Israelites left Egypt so quickly that they didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise.  During the eight days of Passover, baked goods, cereals, pasta and most of our everyday carb heavy diet are off limits, not Kosher for Passover because they contain yeast or have risen in some way.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and today there is an entire manufacturing industry that churns out Kosher for Passover cake mixes, bagels and breakfast cereals.  And if you live in cities like Montreal,  New York or LA, you can find them in most grocery stores.

But if you live in Seattle, Vancouver or San Francisco, finding those products can take you across the city, visiting store after store, chasing down rumours of abundance only to find boxes of Matzo and dusty jars of Gefilte fish.

In the world of grocery, ethnic foods are relegated to a section of an aisle.  Religious foods?  Well, now you’re really asking a lot of your local grocer.

Grocery stores are designed to give you a lot of choice.  They use a model that assumes that given enough choice, you’ll find what you’re looking for as well as a few things you didn’t know you needed.  The model they use is outdated and leads to poor customer service.

The average grocery store has 30k products, the average superstore, 60k.  Each week new products are introduced, other products removed.  Ask a grocery employee if they carry a particular product, you’ll be lucky to be directed to the correct aisle but more likely to be met with a confused stare.  They can’t possibly keep up with what’s in store and neither can you.

Even with loyalty cards tracking your purchases, grocery stores know very little about you and your food lifestyle needs and tastes.  My local grocer doesn’t know that I buy $150 of Passover products at a store across the city every year.  He also doesn’t know that a dozen families from my synagogue are making the same trek, or should I say, schlepp!

The days of consumers wandering around giant retail stores searching for products are coming to an end.   Technology has given us tools that help us organize and analyze our needs but more importantly, it has enabled a social connection that provides us with knowledge, influence and trust that help to inform us.

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.57.11 PMIt baffles me that I can open my phone and in five minutes I can book a flight to a country I’ve never been to, find a hotel that’s recommended by people with similar tastes and make a reservation at a great restaurant but I can’t find out who sells Manishewitz Sunny O cereal near me.

That’s why we created Hiyu, because finding the foods that match your food lifestyle should be easy.  If you’re in Vancouver, give it a try.  Download Hiyu (iOS & Android) and search for Passover foods.  Let us know if you find what you’re looking for.


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