Keeping it Kosher
Feb. 27, 2017
After purchasing Abeles & Heymann, Seth Leavitt kept on old-school vision of how to make meat.
While growing up in Austria, Oscar Abeles learned about meat and provisions through butcher apprenticeships. He even kept a book where recipes and notes showed the proper techniques for crafting hot dogs and salamis. After moving to the United States, Abeles founded Abeles & Heymann in 1954 with his nephew, Leopold Heymann. The company initially operated out of a little store in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City before moving to the Bronx.
In 1997, current CEO Seth Leavitt bought Abeles & Heymann. After that purchase, his vision for the business was sticking to an old-school mentality of making meat.
“They (the original owners) didn’t want a large corporation to come in and make changes right across the board and change the nature and quality of the product,” Leavitt says. “They wanted someone who had integrity for the product, and that’s what they found.”
In 2007, Leavitt realized to keep the traditional practices going, Abeles & Heymann needed a new and up-to-date facility to manage the demand and packaging for a 21st-century operation. So he moved the company to Hillsdale, New Jersey, where it operates today. Even with the changes of location to the Tri-state area, the kosher company relies on quality processing and ingredients to distinguish its products from other hot dog makers.
“We’re not in the fresh meat business,” Leavitt says. “We’re not looking to get in the fresh meat business. We’re just looking to make the hot dog, salami, corned beef or pastrami and just make it right. The way it should be. The way it was made 50 to 60 years ago.”
The Power of Glatt
One way Leavitt and his employees have maintained the integrity of the product is adhering to the strict glatt kosher standard of hot dogs. Glatt kosher differs from regular kosher in that the meat must come from an animal with adhesion-free or smooth lungs. Leavitt says his processing team in New Jersey takes great care to produce the best-possible product.
After creating the proper lean-to-fat combination for a given customer, the mixture is moved into a rotating paddle machine where the ground meat and fat create a bind that helps the hot dogs stay less greasy with fewer leaks. Then it’s into the emulsifier where spices are added to the process.
Next, hot dog emulsion goes into the stuffer where the meat is extruded into the linker. The linked hot dogs are placed on a hanging tree before being moved to the ovens where the meat is smoked for 12 to 24 hours. After cooling, the products are peeled, packaged and shipped to customers. Along with the traditional meats, Abeles & Heymann is always looking to other variations of hot dogs, whether reduced-fat or nitrate-free.
“The (customers) want to know what they are feeding their families,” he says. “Even though they still want a hot dog, they want a better-for-you hot dog.”
Abeles & Heymann hot dogs are sold in more than 20 states across the country with its main business in the Northeast.