1985 commercial for Maxwell House Coffee

Maxwell House is a brand of coffee manufactured by a like-named division of Kraft Foods. It is named in honor of the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. For many years until the late 1980s it was the largest-selling coffee in the U.S. and is currently (ca. 2007) second behind Folgers, which is manufactured by The J.M. Smucker Co. The company recently unveiled its new slogan, “Good Just Got Great.” Their new slogan is seen on their website.

“Good to the last drop”

In 1917, Cheek-Neal began using a “Good to the Last Drop” slogan to advertise their Maxwell House Coffee. For several years, the ads made no mention of Theodore Roosevelt as the phrase’s originator. By the 1930s, however, the company was running advertisements that claimed that the former President had taken a sip of Maxwell House Coffee on a visit to Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage, near Nashville on October 21, 1907 and that when served coffee he had proclaimed it to be “Good to the Last Drop.”  In modern times, Maxwell House has distanced itself from its own original claim stating that the slogan was actually written by Clifford Spiller, former president of General Foods Corporation and did not come from a Roosevelt remark overheard by Cheek-Neal. The phrase remains a registered trademark for the product and appears on its logo. While the veracity of the Roosevelt relation to the phrase has never been historically established in the press of local papers that covered Roosevelt’s October 21st visit and one of his coffee drinking episodes, without doubt, the Maxwell House Company, itself, for many years, claimed in its own advertising that the Roosevelt story was true.

 

Advertising

During the 1920s the Maxwell House brand began to be extensively advertised across the US. Total advertising expenditure rose from $19,955 in 1921 to $276,894 in 1924, and consequently the brand was cited as the most well-known coffee brand in a 1925 study of consumer goods.

Maxwell House was the long-time sponsor of the early television series, Mama, based on the play and film I Remember Mama. It starred Peggy Wood as the matriarch of a Norwegian-American family. It ran on the CBS network from 1949 to 1957 and was perhaps the first example of product placement on a TV show, as the family frequently gathered around the kitchen table for a cup of Maxwell House coffee. Early television programs were frequently packaged by the advertising agencies of individual sponsors. As this practice became less common in the late 1950s, Maxwell House, like most national brands, turned to “spot” advertising, with the agencies creating sometimes long-running campaigns in support of their products. One such 1970s campaign for Maxwell House featured the actress Margaret Hamilton, the former wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, as Cora, the general store owner who proudly announced that Maxwell House was the only brand she sold. Maxwell House was also a well-known sponsor of the Burns and Allen radio show, during which Maxwell House spots were incorporated into the plots of the actual radio scripts.

Along with television advertising, Maxwell House used various print campaigns, always featuring the tagline “good to the last drop.” The publication of its Passover haggadah by the Joseph Jacobs Advertising Agency beginning in 1933 made Maxwell House a household name with many American Jewish families. This was a clever marketing strategy by owner Joseph Jacobs, who hired an Orthodox rabbi to certify that the coffee bean was technically more like a berry than a bean and, consequently, kosher for Passover. Maxwell House coffee was the first to target a Jewish demographic, and the haggadah continues to represent a synthesis of American and Jewish interests. It was also reportedly used for a Seder held at the White House in 2009 by President of the United States Barack Obama.

Info gleaned from Wikipedia

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