The Maxwell House Haggadah

 I missed out on the big splash it made last year when it updated the translation with certain PC changes with respect to gender reference. But I only discovered the specific marketing angle behind its conception this year. That is to publicize that coffee beans do not share the kitniyos status of other beans. Thank Heavens for that -- I can live without bread for 8 days, but coffee is another matter altogether. 


Now here's the thing that always got me about the assumption behind the Maxwell House Haggadah: you cannot end the seder with a cup of coffee, for the last taste left in your mouth has to be that of matzah, which is only allowed to be supplanted by the taste of the third and fourth cups of wine that follow the Afikomen. 


Theoretically, you could sip your coffee before you eat your Afikomen, I suppose, but really, who wants black coffee that late? Most seder meals include meat, and the nondairy creamers that are kosher for Pesach are simply vile. Nevertheless the history and marketing angle behind this Haggadah is interesting. 

According to http://www.brownielocks.com/MaxwellHouseHaggadahs.html Maxwell House Coffee was kosher for Passover certified way back in 1923.
 The Hagaddah idea came to be from  the Joseph Jacobs ad agency, which had the goal of "making  make coffee, rather than tea, the drink of choice after Seders," according to http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/opinion/sunday/why-a-haggadah.html?pagewanted=all?src=tp   "The resulting Haggadah is one of the longest-running sales promotions in advertising history," amounting to over 50 million copies to date.
One thing I am not completely clear on is whether the first Maxwell House Haggadah came out in 1932, as the New York Times claims, or in 1934, as the Brownielocks article declares. On the side of 1934 is this chronology of Haggadot: http://www.angelfire.com/pa2/passover/haggadah-chronology-timeline.html

image of the Haggadah incarnation in 1934, 1950s and 1998 from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/09/nyregion/09haggadah.html

Comments

Anonymous said…
B"H
Hi. The 1932 Maxwell House Haggadah is is documented by Yudlov in "Otzar HaHagadot", it is number 3428. This is a bibliography of most(almost all) of the printed Haggadot in history until 1960. I personally own the 1933 version.
Hag Sameaj,
Ariel
Ariella said…
Thanks for commenting. You really own one that old? Wow. In this book, there's an extended article on the Maxwell House Haggadah that puts the date at 1934. http://www.amazon.com/Peoples-Passover-Haggadah-Traditional-Commentaries/dp/1580233546/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333310654&sr=1-1

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