Elite's Red Cow

Franz Kraus for Elite, 1939

Of every 10 chocolate bars sold in Israel, six are Elite's "red cow bar" - 63.2 percent of the market. Elite Foods never dreamed of anything on this scale when it started off in the 1920s in Latvia as a candy factory owned by Eliahu Fromchenko, who settled in Palestine in 1933 and within a year built a chocolate factory in Ramat Gan (later buying out two competitors).

Elite's most popular label, the red cow, appeared in 1939, when the British declared austerity in the country. Abba Fromchenko, from the second generation of Elite's founders, recalled in an interview, "The British asked us to produce a cheap, popular chocolate that would enter the food basket and be distributed with coupons." Fromchenko adds that they received a certain allocation for the imported materials. "We had little sugar and even less high-fat milk powder. The recipe for the 'cow' was cheap and the merchandise edible. Over the years the poor man's chocolate became full-fledged chocolate."

The designer Franz Kraus created the red-cow wrapper. The Austrian-born Kraus began to work in graphics in Berlin at the end of the 1920s. He arrived in Palestine in 1934, and according to his son, Michael, began to work as a designer for Elite in 1936. In an interview to Haaretz, Kraus said, "What makes this wrapper so successful is its simplicity and the fact that the message is on the cover: chocolate made from milk that comes from the udders of a cow." The ingredients of red-cow chocolate remain almost unchanged - at the end of the 1990s the quantity of cocoa in the product was increased. (D.K.)