Morrie R. Yohai, the creator of the crunchy,finger-staining orange Cheez Doodles snack, has died. He was 90.
Yohai died of cancer on July 27 at his Long Island home in KingsPoint, his son, Robbie, said Tuesday.
His father was always amused that people thought the cheddarcheese snack he produced at his Bronx factory was the highlight ofhis life, Robbie Yohai said. His father's wide-ranging interestsextended to Jewish mysticism and poetry, and the snack was only oneof many things his father did, Yohai said.
But it's Cheez Doodles that he will be remembered for.
Yohai developed the small tubular snack at his Old London Foodsfactory in the 1950s. The company already was selling Dipsy Doodlesrippled corn chips, which were made with a machine that spit themout under pressure through a nozzle shaped like the letter W.
"He applied a similar concept for the Cheez Doodles," adaptingthe machine to extrude liquefied cornmeal into a "more roundish,pinhole shape," said Robbie Yohai.
The snack was coated with seasoning and cheddar cheese thatcolors hands bright orange. To make the Cheez Doodles healthier,they were baked, not fried.
In 1965, Borden approached Yohai about selling the Old Londoncompany, which also made Melba Toast, ice cream cones, cheesecrackers and other products. He became senior vice president ofBorden's snack food division, acquiring Wise potato chips, Drake'scakes, Campfire Marshmallows and other products for the company.
He left Borden after about 10 years when the company moved to
Ohio, his son said. For a long time, he kept a picture of JuliaChild eating a bag of Cheez Doodles with a caption that called ither favorite snack, Yohai added.
When the family vacationed in California in 2004, he said, theywent to a museum that had a room-size installation by artist SandySkoglund called "The Cocktail Party," a work made entirely ofCheez Doodles.
"The whole room was made of Cheez Doodles, the table, chairs,glasses, the people's hair," said Robbie. He said his mother wasvery excited and "proceeded to tell everyone in the museum that myfather was the creator of the Cheez Doodles."
In the 1970s, Yohai was the associate dean of the businessschool at the New York Institute of Technology on Long Island.
Yohai's daughter, Babs Yohai, said her father began writingpoetry after someone suggested he write a memoir. After taking awriting class, he produced two poetry books, one of which focusedon interpreting the Torah.
He learned Hebrew so he could read the teachings of the Zohar, afoundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thoughtknown as Kabbalah.
Yohai also supported many conservation and environmental causesthrough his Morrie R. Yohai Foundation, his son said.
Born in Harlem, Yohai graduated from the Wharton School at the
University of Pennsylvania and received a master's degree from NewYork University. He went to work for the Grumman aircraft factoryon Long Island and was a pilot during World War II.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun