I remember when all esrogim came in hair, in fact one of my favorite things about succos was going to the Lower East Side to buy our lulav and esrog and playing with the hair, while smelling the esrog, of course by the time we got home the hair had already pulled all our pitoms off, posseling our esrogim and causing my father to go into one of his “I’m gonna give you a poch like never before” moods. I then realized that the hair was some sort of marketing gimmick to keep the esrogim safe while at the same time allowing the dealers to sell more then one per person, since the hair was almost always responsible for a broken pitom.
Along with modernization
Due to my poor upbringing we never had any fancy silver stuff, in fact like Jeff Foxworthy said, we are redneck because we wash our paper plates and cups- although this was only a recent invention by my Dad sometime after his first AARP magazine came in the mail. So naturally my brother and I always thought we were less religious then everyone because we didn’t have any fancy lulav or esrog holders.
I always thought the frummies had the silver, the more modern folks had those wooden ones with their names and folks like us had to stick it out with a cardboard box that never made it through succos. At least we had the hair and we could pretend we had peyos sticking out from under our baseball hats.
I remember walking to shull on succos and how embarrassing it was. I was sure as hell glad we didn’t have those huge goofy, green, Lulav holders. Having to walk with a palm many months away from Palm Sunday was enough, but that green holder would have been the breaking point. Little did I know as a child, but every damned person on the upper west side was Jewish anyway.
For shachris on chol hamoid we would go to the Vorhand(forhand) shull on 91st and
In recent times I have begun to think that the whole idea of packaging esrogim in hair was all a conspiracy made up by someone who knew he could sell spare esrogim to people who “accidentally” tore their pitom off. As is the case by most conspiracies within the frum community we will have to wait until the Jewish Press or Mishpacha magazine decided to dig up the dirt on the real story of the hairy esrogim.
One reason they may have stopped using the hair, was because, like many modern orthodox children of our time I used to pretend I was a chossid by using the hair as a beard and peyos. The girls used to do this as well and along the line I am sure someone from one of the local tznius/chumra patrols might have seen this and decided to call in the big guns at the vaad hatznius to do away with the hair, which also may have been mistaken to pubic hair also causing tznius problems within the frum community.