If you’re all caught up on Season 2 of The Kitchen Stories, the JMABC’s food podcast, then you’re at least a little bit familiar with Koffman Food Importers.
I learned about Koffman Foods from Myrna Koffman—the daughter-in-law of Jack Koffman, who started the business back in 1925. Newly arrived in Vancouver, Jack and his wife Ethel missed the range of kosher products they’d been accustomed to in Winnipeg, so Jack started getting kosher foods shipped to their house. From there, he distributed them to friends and family in the community.
Over the years, Jack’s brothers and other family members came to help out, and Koffman Foods grew. They moved through several physical locations and expanded beyond supplying kosher foods alone. Jack Koffman passed away in 1968, and his son-in-law Ed Friedman ran the company for many years afterwards.
When I first reached out to Myrna about coming on the podcast, I didn’t know about Koffman Foods. Myrna told me she would be happy to share Jack’s story but needed time to put some things together. I tried to do some research, but couldn’t find much: there were a few ads for Koffman Food Importers in archived newspapers online, but that was about it. I couldn’t even find mention of them here in the archive!
To my delight, when I checked back in with Myrna a few weeks later, she’d had much better luck: another member of the family, Tannis Koffman Boxer, had pretty good records concerning the family business, including a 1975 article about Koffman Food Importers in Western Grocer magazine, which you can read here for a more detailed account.
If you haven’t listened to the “Keeping BC Kosher ” episode of The Kitchen Stories yet, give it a listen to learn more about Koffman Food Importers and a few of the people across the province who work hard to supply Jews with kosher products today.
Many thanks to Myrna and Tannis for all your help sharing this story.
-Liana, host of The Kitchen Stories Season 2
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