Tuesday, August 03, 2010


I once shared a house in New York with a cat generally known as The Wombat who had an unnatural passion for Cheese Doodles. For his sake alone (and it’s also the silly season) I cannot ignore the passing of Mr. Yohai as recorded by the Tri-City Herald.

"Morrie Yohai was present at the creation of the Cheez Doodle. In a 2005 interview with Newsday, Yohai said the cheese-powder-covered baked corn puff was developed at the Old London Melba toast factory in the Bronx, which also made the Cheese Waffie, popcorn, caramel popcorn and other snacks. "We were looking for another snack item," he said. "We were fooling around and found out that there was a machine that extruded cornmeal and it almost popped like popcorn." Yohai and his partners thought of chopping the cornmeal product into pieces and coating it with cheese. "We wanted to make it as healthy as possible," he said, "so it was baked, not fried." And, he said, the name Doodle occurred to him as they sat around a table tasting different kinds of cheese on the snacks. Yohai, who lived in Kings Point, N.Y., died of cancer on July 27. He was 90. He also was an accomplished photographer, poet, professor and businessman whose quiet wisdom left a deep impression on his family and friends. Morrie R. Yohai was born in Harlem on March 4, 1920. He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied business, then went to work for the Grumman aircraft company on Long Island. During World War II, Yohai interrupted his career to enlist in the Navy and begin flight training, said Yohai's son, Robbie Yohai of Berkeley, Calif. "He decided since he was making planes, he figured he could fly a plane," Robbie Yohai said of his father, who had never taken an airplane ride before. "The first time he was ever in an airplane, he was the co-pilot."
Morrie Yohai transferred to the Marine Corps and eventually served as a pilot in the South Pacific, shuttling injured troops and cargo back and forth, Robbie Yohai said "He was excited by the experience," his son said. "He was happy to be a Marine and was very proud of it." In 1949, Yohai took over his father's snack-food factory in what would become the beginning of a long career in the food industry. Yohai eventually sold the company to Borden Inc., where he became group vice president in charge of snacks. In the 2005 interview, he said his duties included sitting around a conference table with other executives and choosing the toys for boxes of Cracker Jack. He left the company when Borden relocated to Columbus, Ohio, and soon began teaching at the New York Institute of Technology. He eventually became the associate dean of the school of management, Robbie Yohai said. "It turned out that he loved teaching," Robbie Yohai said. "He could see he was making a difference in a lot of these young people's lives."
In his later years, Yohai turned his attention to Torah study, Jewish mysticism and writing. Robbie Yohai said his father wrote more than 500 poems and published two books of poetry."

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Jon said...

Oh God, I haven't thought about cheese waffles in years. They're so good.

Elizabeth Farren (Mrs.) said...

Crunchy Cheeze Doodles. He had little use for the puffy variety.