Passover's brief history of the Maxwell House Haggadah, a marketing move transformed into classic, is a collection of short stories

Passover's brief history of the Maxwell House Haggadah, a marketing move transformed into classic, i ...

By the Department Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Otis College of Art and Design, I am the first person to publish this article.

The haggadah is now known as. The book outlines the Seder meal as a guide to the Exodus, where families tell the story of God rescuing ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Thousands of different haggadahs exist today, with prayers, rituals, and readings tailored to every type of Seder from to. Yet, for decades, one of the most popular and influential haggadahs in the United States has been a simple version with an unlikely source: the Maxwell House Haggadah, founded in 1932 by a Jewish advertising executive.

Its history reflects how Jews were modernized while also maintaining beliefs. However, coffee has no ritual ties to Passover. So what does the Maxwell House Haggadah's long-standing appeal?

Coffee competition

One explanation is that advertising is so widespread and powerful in people's lives that it becomes almost invisible. I have studied how marketing can.

The meeting of two marketing masterminds begins with the first, Joseph Jacobs, who moved to New York at the turn of the 20th century, amid a wave of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. He then established his advertising business in 1919. Joel Owsley Cheek of the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company, who hails from the South, was then the parent company of Maxwell House coffee.

Jacobs' desire to familiarize businesses with led him to talk with Cheek in 1922 about publishing posters for Maxwell House coffee in Jewish journals. There was only one problem: Jewish people of Eastern European descent believed that coffee beans, like other legumes, were forbidden for Passover, so they drank tea during the weeklong holiday.

In 1923, a rabbi from the Lower East Side claimed that technically coffee beans were like berries and therefore kosher for Passover and Jacobs' Maxwell coffee.

When Maxwell House visited Jacobs' practice during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when a major grocery store grew. When he suggested selling a book for free with each purchased can of coffee, the Maxwell House Haggadah became president.

Beyond its appeal as a giveaway, the content of the haggadah erupted trust among Jewish customers. The front cover sparked a tradition by using pen and ink illustrations of biblical texts. As is often found in Hebrew texts, the pages of the haggadah are divided from left to right.

According to a command of the Joseph Jacobs Organization to guide its marketing efforts, Maxwell House became the coffee of choice for Jewish households in New York City.

Modernizing the haggadah

The Maxwell House Haggadah remained relatively unchanged through the 1940s and 50s, achieving the designation of a Passover classic. But this continued to reflect the times. While the written text was still somewhat the same, the addition of English transliterations of blessings and prayers imply the loss of Hebrew reading skills.

The haggadah, which once once reopened, had a visual makeover in 2000, as seen in a memorial service that year. Stark graphics, popular since the mid-60s, were replaced with nostalgic photographs depicting an intergenerational family at a Seder. This tender imagery evoked a time when, provoking concerns from Jewish leaders.

The haggadah gained worldwide fame when President Obama used it to conduct in 2009. Shortly thereafter, it was completed for the 21st century. Maxwell House's version was now less illustrated and included more written text, like the haggadahs used by more religious Jews. By eliminating antiquated words like "thee" and "thine," along with gender-specific pronouns for God, the new version sat more important for a younger and more.

In 2019, when "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," a television show about a mid-century Jewish housewife, reached its height of fame, Maxwell House published a special. This was a resounding surprise to the haggadah's start in the late 1960s, and this was yet another marketing effort to maintain American Jews' fascination with Maxwell House coffee in a tight market.

It is Maxwell House's that has evolved into the. The story of its significance in US households reveals the importance of marketing in guiding a yearly tradition.

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