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Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's A Menorah! It's A Turkey! It's A Menurkey!

A menurkey -- a menorah shaped like a turkey -- commemorates Thanksgiving and the first day of Chanukah, which fall on the same day this year. (menurkey.com)

A menurkey — a menorah shaped like a turkey — commemorates Thanksgiving and the first day of Chanukah, which fall on the same day this year. (menurkey.com)

This year, Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah will coincide, and what better way to celebrate than with a “Menurkey” — a menorah shaped like a turkey.

Asher Weintraub, who just turned 10, is the inventor of the Menurkey. He and his dad, Anthony Weintraub, join Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to talk about Asher’s business and “Thanksgivukah,” as the unusual overlapping holiday is being called.

Guest

  • Asher Weintraub, 10-year-old creator and designer of the Menurkey.
  • Anthony Weintraub, father of Asher.

Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

This year Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah are happening at the same time, and the unusual holiday overlap might not happen again until the year 79,811, if you believe claims on the Internet. But anyway, Thanksgivukah is a rare event, and it inspired young Asher Weintraub to invent the Menurkey, a menorah shaped like a turkey.

He joins us from the NPR studios in New York. Asher, welcome.

ASHER WEINTRAUB: Thank you.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, it's great to have you. I should say that you are all of nine years old. Is that right?

WEINTRAUB: I just turned 10.

CHAKRABARTI: Just turned 10, OK, 10-year-old inventor of the Menurkey. Asher joins us with us father, Anthony Weintraub. Welcome.

ANTHONY WEINTRAUB: Thank you.

CHAKRABARTI: OK, so Asher first of all, just for people who haven't seen it yet, can you describe the Menurkey to us? What does it look like?

WEINTRAUB: Well, it's like a cartoonish turkey that's a menorah.

CHAKRABARTI: Where do the individual lights or candles for each night of Hanukkah go in the Menurkey?

WEINTRAUB: In little cups behind the feathers.

CHAKRABARTI: Oh, so is it like one per feather?

WEINTRAUB: Yeah.

CHAKRABARTI: OK. Where did you come up with the idea to make a Menurkey?

WEINTRAUB: In a car.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAKRABARTI: Were you just brainstorming with your dad?

WEINTRAUB: No, well, I think my brother and I were arguing, and my mom and dad wanted to change the topic. And mommy was just looking at her calendar and saw that they were on the same day this year. She told us, and it just came to my head.

CHAKRABARTI: Where did you make the prototype, the first Menurkey?

WEINTRAUB: Like after a while, we had a brunch. Both my grandfathers were arguing. One thought we should do it in China and have it shipped here, and one thought he should design it because he's an artist. So after the brunch, daddy and I decided we should just design it right then. So we did that, and a week later or something, daddy got MakerBot to print it out for us.

CHAKRABARTI: Oh, so a 3-D printer was the first - printed the first Menurkey.

WEINTRAUB: Yeah, I mean, if I could contextualize, he actually did draw it out on paper, and then you created a ceramic one, right Ash?

WEINTRAUB: That was before we did the 3-D print design.

WEINTRAUB: Right, right. I have to say that he always says that we did it, but I was just sitting there watching him.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAKRABARTI: Well Anthony, provide us with a little bit more context here. When you - when Asher first said hey, this is my idea for a Menurkey, what'd you think?

WEINTRAUB: Well, I thought it was an incredible idea and funny and, you know, silly in that way that would maybe attract people to this notion that two holidays were at the same time. My wife and I looked at each other, like we often do with Asher's ideas and his brother's ideas, and say wow, that was amazing.

And this one just kind of stuck, and we ended up talking about it with friends, and everyone else kind of had the same reaction. So we often talk a lot about ideas in our house, because we're both creative, we work in creative fields, my wife and I are filmmakers, but we often walk about how an idea is really just an idea until you see it through and follow it to its sometimes logical end and sometimes not.

And that's the power of an idea, whether it does have that quality that can expand and grow. And so we just saw this one grow and grow, and it continues to. So it's been pretty amazing.

CHAKRABARTI: Well Asher, what's it been like for you to see exactly what your dad's talking about, an idea that popped into your head actually becoming reality and people buying it?

WEINTRAUB: It's cool. I was amazed to see that after thinking about it, coming up with it in my head and then 3-D printing a prototype, we got to selling them.

CHAKRABARTI: And how have they been selling? Have people been snatching them up?

WEINTRAUB: I think so, yeah.

CHAKRABARTI: Anthony, do you know how sales have been?

WEINTRAUB: Yeah, sales have been I would say at a clip. They've been flying off the shelves. I hate to use the cliches, but that's selling off of our website, and that's also selling at the Jewish Museum here in New York City.

CHAKRABARTI: Thanksgiving is basically a secular holiday, and it just so happens that this year Hanukkah, a religious holiday, and Thanksgiving coincide. Has there been anyone who said, well, you know, it's a once-in-a-thousand-year thing, it's not that big of a deal, and maybe the two should be kept separate. Has anyone told you?

WEINTRAUB: I've read that. I think I've read several really interesting essays about this convergence. And there was probably one person who was taking that view, and perhaps that was more related to, you know, what we all know as the commoditization of holidays, which, you know, none of us celebrate. But I actually think that the positive side of this and the beauty of this is that more people are talking about how unique it is and how special these two holidays really are.

Whereas Thanksgiving might not be specifically religious, it is - there is a spirituality, which goes with it, which has to do with freedoms. And I think that Hanukkah has that quality, as well.

CHAKRABARTI: Asher, does Thanksgiving or Hanukkah feel different this year to you because they do happen at the same time?

WEINTRAUB: Sort of. They're different. Because they're on the same day, a lot of people are, like, thinking of food mashups for them and stuff like that.

CHAKRABARTI: Asher Weintraub is 10 years old and the inventor of the Menurkey. Asher, first of all, congratulations on your invention, and thanks so much for joining us.

WEINTRAUB: Thank you.

CHAKRABARTI: And Anthony Weintraub is Asher's father. Anthony, thank you so much for joining us, as well.

WEINTRAUB: Thanks for having us.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CHAKRABARTI: You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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