Saturday, June 5, 2021

Maxwell House Coffee

The Maxwell House Coffee Company had its beginning following the Civil War. In 1873, a Kentucky farm boy name Joel Cheek move to Nashville, Tennessee, and found job as a travelling salesman for a wholesale grocery firm.

He befriended Roger Smith, a British coffee broker who could tell the origins of the coffee just by smelling the green, unroasted beans. Like Smith, Cheek shared a passion for coffee and developed a roast for the best coffee in the South.

After years of effort, they convinced Nashville’s newest and most exclusive hotel the Maxwell House to try his new blend. They offered Maxwell House Hotel twenty pounds of the premium roast to sample and serve in its restaurant.

Established in 1859 by former Civil War colonel John Overton Jr. in Nashville, Tennessee, Maxwell House Hotel was one of the city’s most popular lodging facilities. The name of the hotel was derived from Colonel Overton’s wife, Harriet Maxwell. Its guests included presidents, senators, mayors, businessmen, and famous entertainers.

The hotel’s restaurant agreed to offer Cheek’s recipe exclusively to its guests. Within weeks guests were talking about the coffee. One famous visitor upon being asked if he would like another cup, replied, “Delighted, it’s good to the last drop.” President Theodore Roosevelt’s words would become the slogan for a major brand of coffee.

Cheek joined John W. Neal, a lawyer in a grocery firm, and started a distributing company called the Cheek-Neal Coffee and Manufacturing Company. In 1903 the constructed the first Maxwell House plant in Nashville.

On August 1, 1928, the Postum Company acquired the Cheek Neal Coffee Company for approximately $40 million, changing its name to the Maxwell House Products Corporation. One year later, Postum changed its name to General Foods Corporation. Joel Cheek died on December 13, 1936, at the age of 83. The original Maxwell House hotel was destroyed by a fire on December 25, 1961.

In the 1930s Maxwell House experimented to invent another new coffee product one that would not need brewing but instead could be made just by adding water. After using U.S. troops as testers during World War II, Maxwell House began marketing the first successful instant coffee in 1950.
Maxwell House Coffee

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