In 1923, Maxwell House was the first major coffee brand to produce a kosher coffee designed to be served during Passover—the eight-day celebration in the Jewish faith that commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The concept was dreamed up as a marketing opportunity. Then, in 1932 Maxwell House decided to publish a Haggadah, with stories that guide the Passover Seder-it was another marketing ploy, designed to promote their kosher coffee over others who had taken Maxwell House’s lead and begun making a kosher version of their coffee.
There are many published versions of the Haggadah, but the Maxwell House edition emerged as the gold standard because it provided an inexpensive way to provide a dozen or two dozen diners with the same Hebrew and English text. The coffee company even offered the book free with purchase.
It’s now the most popular Haggadah in the world, with over 50 million printed to date. Even President Obama uses the Maxwell House Haggadah to conduct Seders in the White House.
It seems that Maxwell House turned a marketing promotion into a cultural tradition.
Obama White House Photo via USA TODAY