It’s a rare link that ties together Jews and one of America’s most iconic snack foods. But the recent death of Morrie Yohai, the inventor of the Cheez Doodle, has brought one of those few connections to light.
Yohai, who died last week at the age of 90, according to the New York Times invented “the Doodle” while working for his father’s company Old London Foods in the early 1920s in New York. Yohai devised the snack after realizing a new machine could cut corn meal crackers into three inch tubes that were then coated with cheddar powder and baked (never fried!). (Click here to see just how Cheez-y snack is made.)
“We wanted to make it as healthy as possible so it was baked, not fried,” Yohai said in a 2005 Newsday profile. (It’s remarkable to think that someone once thought a snack that turns not just your hands but likely your insides bright orange was healthy).
In the 1950s, the company was bought by Borden who also makes Cracker Jack, where Yohai became the vice president of the company’s snack division and reportedly helped select which toys went in Cracker Jack boxes. While Yohai, who kept a photo of Julia Child eating the snack in his home, was modest about his invention, his wife couldn’t help but brag about his accomplishment. In 2004, the Yohai family visited a California art museum that had mounted a life-size installation of people eating at a cocktail party — covered in Cheez Doodles. “My mother told everyone in the entire museum that he invented them,” Robbie Yohai, his son, told the Times.