Issue of the day: A French jam’s Nazi resistance past?

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BONNE Maman is a French brand of jam familiar on shelves worldwide due to its gingham-patterned lid and homely label. Now a surprising claim regarding the preserve and a link to the Nazi resistance has gone viral online.

 

It translates to ‘grandmother’?

Launched by French food giant Andros 50 years ago, Bonne Maman – ‘granny’ in English – is a mass market preserve with a home-made feel, due to the red and white checked lid and the white label with black handwritten-style lettering.

 

So what’s gone viral?

Michael Perino, a law professor from St John’s University in New York, tweeted about his experience in a grocery store in New Jersey on Valentine’s Day. He wrote: “At the supermarket today, I found a small, elderly woman standing in front of a high shelf holding Bonne Maman preserves. She was having trouble finding the flavour she wanted because the jars were set back on the shelf.”

 

He helped her?

Perino said he handed her some raspberry preserve, she thanked him and then asked, “Do you know why I buy this brand?…I am a Holocaust survivor.”

 

What does that have to do with the jam?

The 57-year-old professor said she told him: “During the war, the family that owns the company hid my family in Paris. So now I always buy it. And whenever I go to the store, my grandkids remind me, ‘Bubbe, don’t forget to buy the jelly.’” Perino added: “I told her that that was the best reason I ever heard to buy any company’s product.”

 

It picked up traction online?

The thread went viral, with thousands of likes and retweets as Perino’s followers pledged to support the firm and proudly shared pictures of the jam in their fridges.

 

But is it true?

The details are hard to verify. The brand itself, created in 1971, could not confirm the story, telling the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) in a statement: “The family prefers to maintain privacy and does not comment on inquiries about personal matters.”

 

Furthermore?

According to the JTA, no-one in Biars-sur-Cère, the town where the company is based, was listed on Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum registry of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. And while the woman said her family was sheltered in Paris, the founding family was based in Biars-sur-Cère at the time of the war.

 

But Twitter got on board?

Internet sleuths suggested that perhaps some of the family may have lived in Paris during the war, while Perino said he may simply have “misheard” the location, while others thought she may have meant “near Paris”.

 

What does the professor think?

He said simply: “I can tell you though that when I was standing in that supermarket aisle I believed her. I continue to believe her. If you were standing there with me, I think you would have believed her too.”

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