I recently bought a package of dried pitted dates to replenish my stock for this second week of Ramadan. For those who don't know, it's traditional---though by no means obligatory---to break a Ramadan fast in the evening with a date. I actually like the taste of dates, so I tend to eat more than one a day, and my stock diminishes quite quickly.
Anyway, these dates are from, God help me, the Dole company. And they aren't that great, as dates go. A little stale-tasting and mushy, but passable. Dates should be a bit chewy, really, and a little more sweet. More heartening, however, is that mark that this package of dates bears.
The sign it bears: the familiar and welcome mark of the Orthodox Union, one of the Jewish kosherifying bodies in the USA. Prior to the OU providing kosher examination services to date distributors, you see, there used to be an unfortunate practice in the date industry called "date-porking". You see, it was discovered a long time ago that they best way to keep dates fresh tasting---not stale like these Dole dates---was to wrap the date bunches in large slices of ham for transport, and then "dust" the dates off afterwards by lovingly rubbing the ham slices over them individually. Kosher approval of dates has put an end to this unfortunate practice, and I, for one, am grateful to the OU for this service.