Breaking News

How a coffee corporation and a marketing and advertising maven brewed an legendary American Haggadah

THE Conversation by using AP — For a lot more than a millennium, the Haggadah has been the centerpiece of the Jewish vacation of Passover. The e book sets out the ceremony for the Seder meal, when households convey to the biblical Exodus tale of God delivering the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Today, countless numbers of diverse Haggadahs exist, with prayers, rituals and readings tailor-made to each type of Seder – from LGBTQ+-affirming to weather-conscious. But for a long time, one particular of the most well-known and influential Haggadahs in the United States has been a easy edition with an unlikely resource: the Maxwell House Haggadah, dreamed up in 1932 by the coffee company and a Jewish advertising and marketing executive.

Its background demonstrates how Jews modernized and adapted to their new region, even though also upholding traditions. But coffee has no ritual ties to Passover. So what clarifies the Maxwell Residence Haggadah’s sustained popularity?

Espresso level of competition

A single clarification is promoting: a industry so pervasive and highly effective in people’s lives that it gets just about invisible. As a scholar of American Jewish visual lifestyle and conversation, I have researched how marketing can influence Americans’ spiritual and cultural identities.

The story of the Maxwell House Haggadah commences with the meeting of two marketing masterminds. The very first, Joseph Jacobs, grew up on the Lower East Side in New York at the transform of the 20th century, amid a wave of Jewish immigration from Japanese Europe. He went on to create his promoting enterprise in 1919. The next was Joel Owsley Cheek of the Cheek-Neal Coffee Firm, who hailed from the South. Cheek-Neal was then the mum or dad firm of Maxwell Household coffee, with its famous slogan “good to the previous drop.”

Jacobs’ quest to familiarize providers with the getting energy of the expanding populace of Jewish Americans led him to speak with Cheek in 1922 about inserting ads for Maxwell House espresso in Jewish journals. There was only one difficulty: American Jews of Japanese European descent believed that coffee beans, like other legumes, had been forbidden for Passover, when specific foods ought to be avoided, so they drank tea during the weeklong holiday break.

The Maxwell House Haggadah, first revealed in 1932. (Joseph Jacobs Promoting)

The Maxwell Dwelling Haggadah, initial printed in 1932. Joseph Jacobs Advertising

Consulting a rabbi from the Lower East Aspect, who declared that technically espresso beans had been like berries and hence kosher for Passover, Jacobs secured a rabbinical stamp of approval for Maxwell coffee in 1923.

Through the Good Depression of the 1930s, when a important grocery chain discounted their have model of espresso, Maxwell Dwelling turned to Jacobs’ firm to support them stay competitive. The Maxwell House Haggadah was born when he instructed distributing a e-book for free of charge with each individual ordered can of coffee.

Past its enchantment as a giveaway, however, the information of the Haggadah necessary to make Jewish customers’ have faith in. The front deal with relied upon a classical design of centered textual content in Hebrew, but also English. Inside, pen and ink illustrations of biblical stories ongoing the sense of tradition. The pages of the Haggadah turned from appropriate to left, as is usual of Hebrew texts.

It worked. In accordance to a market report commissioned by the Joseph Jacobs Firm to information its promoting attempts, Maxwell Home became the espresso of alternative for Jewish homes about New York City.

Modernizing the Haggadah

The Maxwell House Haggadah remained mostly the same as a result of the 1940s and ‘50s, and before long attained the position of a Passover traditional. But the 1965 version marked a definitive break with the previous. As 1960s lifestyle released additional minimalist, graphic art, raging against the classicism of the earlier, the Haggadah’s images changed to reflect the occasions.

And even though the composed textual content remained largely the exact, the addition of English transliterations of blessings and prayers hinted at Americanizing Jews’ reduction of Hebrew examining techniques.

A 1936 Maxwell House Haggadah alongside a Seder plate in New York on March 15, 2011. (AP/Stace Maude)

For the next 30 decades, very tiny transformed in the Haggadah. But in 2000, it at last gained a visible makeover, as viewed in an advertisement that year. Stark graphics, well-liked considering that the mid-‘60s, were being replaced with nostalgic pics depicting an intergenerational relatives at a Seder. This tender imagery invoked custom at a time when lots of People had grown additional distant from their Jewish communities, prompting problem from Jewish leaders.

Obama hosting a Passover seder at the White House in 2012 (photo credit: Pete Souza/The White House)

Then-US president Barack Obama hosting a Passover Seder at the White House in 2012. (image credit rating: Pete Souza/The White Home)

In 2009, the Haggadah obtained worldwide fame when President Barack Obama made use of it to conduct his very first White Residence Seder. Shortly soon after, it underwent a total overhaul for the 21st century. Maxwell House’s edition was now a lot less illustrated and provided extra composed text, like the Haggadahs applied by a lot more spiritual Jews. By eradicating antiquated words like “thee” and “thine,” along with gender-distinct pronouns for God, the new edition felt a lot more relevant for a young and extra secular Jewish inhabitants.

And in 2019, when “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the television display about a mid-century Jewish housewife-turned-comedian, was at its height of attractiveness, Maxwell Property released a exclusive Mrs. Maisel version of its Haggadah. A throwback to the Haggadah’s heyday in the late ‘50s, this tv tie-in represented nonetheless a further marketing hard work to retain American Jews’ passion for Maxwell Household espresso in a crowded current market.

In a sea of thousands of Haggadahs, it is Maxwell House’s that has turn out to be the de facto agent of American Jewish lifestyle. The story of its spot within just US homes factors to marketing’s vital job in shaping a annually custom.

We are telling a essential tale

Israel is now a considerably far more distinguished participant on the planet phase than its dimension indicates. As The Moments of Israel’s Diplomatic Correspondent, I am well informed that Israel’s safety, tactic and nationwide interests are generally scrutinized and have severe implications.

It requires harmony, willpower, and knowledge to correctly express Israel’s tale, and I occur to perform each and every day aiming to do so fully. 

Economical guidance from audience like you permits me to vacation to witness the two war (I just returned from reporting in Ukraine) and the signing of historic agreements. And it permits The Situations of Israel to continue to be the place viewers across the globe flip to for correct information about Israel’s romance with the entire world.

If it can be significant to you that independent, reality-based mostly protection of Israel’s role in the globe exists and thrives, I urge you to assist our get the job done. Will you be part of The Occasions of Israel Community nowadays?

Thank you,

Lazar Berman, Diplomatic Correspondent

Certainly, I am going to give

Of course, I’ll give

Already a member? Signal in to stop looking at this

You are a focused reader

Which is why we started the Occasions of Israel 10 decades in the past – to supply discerning readers like you with must-study protection of Israel and the Jewish planet.

So now we have a ask for. Unlike other information stores, we have not set up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite visitors for whom The Periods of Israel has turn out to be essential to enable guidance our work by signing up for The Moments of Israel Local community.

For as very little as $6 a month you can aid assistance our high-quality journalism even though experiencing The Moments of Israel Advertisement-Absolutely free, as very well as accessing distinctive content material readily available only to Instances of Israel Local community associates.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Moments of Israel

Join Our Neighborhood

Join Our Group

Now a member? Sign in to stop looking at this