French fruits jam Bonne Maman in a grocery store

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Man incorrectly fact-checks Holocaust story about jam and gets dragged, roasted

People exist prior to founding a company. It's important that you know that.


Siobhan Ball

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 16, 2021   Updated on Feb 16, 2021, 1:29 pm CST

Law professor and writer Michael Perino shared an encounter this week he’d had with a Holocaust survivor in the supermarket on Twitter.

It began over jam, specifically Bonne Maman. Perino met an older lady who wasn’t able to reach the jams she wanted from the top shelf so of course, he helped her. While he was fetching down the different flavors of the jam they got to talking and she told him why she always buys this brand.

She’s a Holocaust survivor and the family who own the Bonne Maman company sheltered her family during the war.

Incident in a NJ Supermarket At the supermarket today, I found a small, elderly woman standing in front of a high shelf holding @BonneMamanUS preserves. She was having trouble finding the flavor she wanted because the jars were set back on the shelf.
“During the war, the family that owns the company hid my family in Paris. So now I always buy it. And whenever I go to the store, my grandkids remind me, ‘Bubbe, don’t forget to buy the jelly.’”

Responses ran the usual range you’d expect from Twitter, from the people who refuse to believe any anecdote isn’t made up to those tearfully swearing to only buy Bonne Maman from now on. But there was one response that really stood out. Twitter user @fabco entered the thread with what he thought was definitive proof that Perino had fabricated the story: The fact that Bonne Maman wasn’t founded until 1971.

It’s a lovely story I hate to spoil: but according to Wikipedia, Bonne Maman is a brand created in 1971, by a company founded in 1959, whose founders did not live in Paris, but over 300 miles away, in Southern France (in the Lot area). Odd.

Unfortunately for @fabco there was one glaring flaw in his logic that a great many people pointed out. Human beings exist prior to founding companies, and every person who founds a company has ancestors going all the way back to the dawn of time.

You don't think the family existed prior to the formation of the company? So reductionist. People only have value if they contribute to capitalism, huh.
Are we thinking that the family who owns this company didn’t exist before they began making jelly? Family lives in Paris. Hides Holocaust survivors in their homes. After the war, opens a jelly company.
In Body Image

In fact, with a little bit of non-Wikipedia research, Twitter very quickly turned up quite a lot of facts that suggest the old lady in Perino’s story was real and telling the truth.

All it takes is a little digging... In 5 minutes I found a story of a family who fled to biars-sur-cere, a small village in france where they hid out from the Nazis. What is located there today? Andros, the headquarters of the company that owns Bonne Maman.

The village of Biars-sur-Cère, near Paris (perhaps near enough as some have suggested that many would just say Paris when talking to an American), home of Bonne Maman preserves, sheltered a number of Jewish children who’d been expelled from Vichy France.

'It seems to have been the entire village that sheltered children.' Link shared in the text above
I didn't know that story, but I know that the town where Bonne Maman was founded--Biars sur Cère--sheltered several Jewish children during the Holocaust in France. One of the rare stories of bravery that emerges from the Shoah in Vichy.
This lovely story inspired me to try & corroborate the story. I found Eric Mayer, a well-known survivor who tells of being sheltered by the village of Biars-sur-Cère with 2 sibs. He lives in NJ. He doesn't mention his sister much, prob to guard her privacy. Thank you for sharing.

And one Twitter user with family connections to the company went on to claim that its founders were known locally for helping hide Jewish people from the Nazis, as well as working with the French Resistance.

Fantastic to read. I have family that comes from close to the home of Bonne Maman - Biars. In fact my grandad worked as a fruit buyer for Andros for 30 years! They are well known in the area for their links to the resistance and helping hide Jews in the war.

As for those stuck on the Paris part, there were also multiple members of the family living in Paris itself during the war who could very well have participated in the work of saving Jewish people while there.

Sad that people feel the need to rain on parades. Especially with shoddy research. Another 5 minutes of research and you’d have learned that the family, from Normandy, lived in Paris during and around WW2. Henri is the father of Jean, the founder.

While we cannot confirm for certain that the old lady’s family was sheltered by the founders of Bonne Maman (for starters, we don’t know her identity) it seems more plausible than not. But many people in the village where the founders lived were involved in protecting Jewish children as well as the French resistance, and local hearsay does put the founders among them.

One thing we can say for certain is that the date somebody founded a company does nothing to disprove anything they may have done prior to that.

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*First Published: Feb 16, 2021, 1:28 pm CST