What’s the connection between Maxwell House and Passover?

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When Maxwell House Coffee started selling the Haggadah for Passover, many believed coffee beans to be non-kosher, resembling forbidden legumes. It took a marketing genius to prove otherwise, says Rabbi Carol Balin. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

In 1934, Maxwell House Coffee Company started to distribute the Haggadah for Passover. There are many versions of Haggadah, a script that is read during the Seder, that tells the story of the Israelites’ liberation from bondage in Egypt. Joseph Jacobs was the marketing genius behind a full-page advertisement placed in the “Jewish Daily Forward,” stating that Maxwell House Coffee was kosher for Passover. At the time, coffee beans were considered “kitniyot,” or non-kosher, because they resemble the grains to be abstained from during Passover. To date, the Maxwell House Haggadah is the most widely distributed version with over 55 million copies sold. Rabbi Carol Balin has the story behind the cultural icon.

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Evan Kleiman