All around the Jewish world, Chanukah is chocolate season. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck with the waxy chocolate coins known as gelt. In fact, a new wave of boutique chocolate makers in Israel are redefining this beloved indulgence in Israel. Many of their skillfully crafted products are already available in the United States. One taste and it’s clear: Gelt has grown up.
But what is the real origin of gelt? Is it, as my father claimed, really a long-held Jewish custom? And how did gelt evolve from money to chocolate? And why does the chocolate taste so waxy? If gelt is here to stay -- if it's going to really represent the Jews like mistletoe and holly do the Christians -- are there any better options than the molten coins of our childhood? These are some of the questions I had as I set out on my journey in search of gelt.