Over 90 years ago, American Jews celebrated the Passover holiday by eating matzo and unleavened treats, but when they reached for a beverage they shunned coffee in favor of tea. It seems there wasn’t a coffee brand certified kosher for Passover. In 1923, Maxwell House saw an opportunity and introduced the first kosher for Passover coffee; others soon followed. Looking to solidify the brand in the minds of Jewish consumers in the early 1930s, Maxwell House’s ad agency employed an innovative marketing tactic for the time: branded content.Why is it so ubiquitous? Well, they made it easy to get:
Well, that’s what we call it today. In fact, Maxwell House decided to publish a book, specifically a Haggadah, and offer it to customers for free with the purchase of a can of coffee. (A Haggadah recounts the Exodus from Egypt, comprised of prayers, songs, and stories which guide the Passover Seder.) The Maxwell House edition was an instant hit. Today, it’s the most popular Haggadah in the world, with over 50 million printed. This Haggadah is so ubiquitous that it’s become difficult to find others. When I went to a Judaica shop in NYC looking to buy a nice set of Haggadahs, the salesperson suggested I hit the supermarket and pick up the Maxwell House edition: “They’re really good,” she exclaimed.
Before Maxwell House published its own, consumers purchased many different versions of Haggadahs. As the number of Seder guests grew, people needed to purchase or borrow additional books and find the right match. Maxwell House made it easier to bring family and friends together year after year with one common text.That little bit of Passover trivia is brought to you by Folgers (j/k).