The Passover holiday is almost upon us, a joyous week in which Jews and enthusiasts gather around the Seder table, read from their favorite gravy-stained Hagadah, and enjoy certain foods while eschewing others. Leavened bread is out, as are legumes of any kind – pack a matzah and haroset sandwich with you to work instead, or heat up some of the leftover brisket with a little horseradish. There won’t be any chocolate babka for dessert, but there will be macaroons – endless macaroons – washed down with fine coffee, as delicious as it is rabbinically permissible.

The story of that rabbinic approval is a fascinating one, involving an unlikely troika of Maxwell House Coffee, Joseph Jacobs Advertising firm and the New York orthodox rabbi they hired in 1923:

The rabbi confirmed that the coffee bean is not a legume – legumes are forbidden for Passover – but a berry instead, so OK under the holiday’s dietary rules.

Maxwell House capitalized on this rabbinic judgment by handing out free Hagadah prayer books with purchase of their sound ground, a tradition that’s continued for nearly 90 years, including a new edition out for 2011.

You can read more via the Reading Eagle, and to the many Jews in Specialty Coffee, we’ll pose the question: what will YOU be serving at Bubbie’s seder instead of, you know, Maxwell House? Send us your emails and leave comments, and we’ll post the best course-by-course recommendations later this week.