Saturday, March 31, 2012

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 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   "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:

image of the Haggadah incarnation in 1934, 1950s and 1998 from
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Monday, March 19, 2012

In Lawrence, March 20th at 7:30

Because Pesach is not just about cleaning, shopping,  or packing up, it's good to remind ourselves about he spiritual component. Those in the 5 Towns/Far Rockaway area can catch a special shiur.  Rabbi Shraga Silverstein, known to some from Michlalah, to others from Machon Devorah, and to those who attended TAG high school a very long time ago from there. He is scheduled to speak Tuesday evening, March 20th  at 7:30 at Shaaray Tefila, 25 Central Avenue, Lawrence, NY 11559 on Pesach and sefirah. Men and women are invited to attend. 

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Absurd Pesach item

Three years I put up a post about absurd products and services marketed for Pesach.   This year I saw something that inspired me to write a new post along those lines. When  I passed by the Judaica store on Shabbos, I saw something in the window. I couldn't figure out what it was. Today when I passed it again, I stepped in to ascertain what the small curved metal item boxed together with what looked like a small piece of matzah was. Flipping over the box revealed the label and what the item is called: a matzah crumb scraper. And this handy-dandy item that can be easily replaced by a , papertowel or perhaps even a piece of cardboard sells for $9.99.  Now that's absurd.

Anyone find something to top this?

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Divrei Chaim: two books worth reading

Divrei Chaim: two books worth reading: I want to recommend two books I read recently that are really worth your time. Both were available from my public library's system, so they...