Coffee began the 20th Century with a fight on its hands. A company called Postum ran a $1.5 million smear campaign against coffee, citing health risks. Postum promoted its own product, a coffee substitute based on grain. However, in a real-life case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", Postum eventually jumped on the coffee bandwagon, buying Maxwell House. Postum went on to become General Foods Corp.
Having survived the propaganda attack, coffee had another boost in 1919. Prohibition meant no alcohol, and with no bars to hang out in, all of a sudden, the coffee house was on the rise. Advertising followed suit, with companies like Maxwell House running huge campaigns. Their slogan was 'Good to the Last Drop', and they controversially claimed these were the words of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The Healthy Cup
Back in the 17th century, coffee was supposed to be good for your digestion. By 1942, racing driver Wilbur Shaw was telling America that 'Coffee wins races for me,' and actress Dorothy Lamour claimed that 'Coffee keeps me glamorous.' Of course, such claims are hard to make in advertising today, so it's no wonder modern marketing focuses on the social and happiness aspects, rather than health claims which could potentially be debunked.
The Coffee Break
In 1952, a Madison Avenue ad agency by the name of Federal Advertising Agency coined the phrase "Coffee Break" for the Pan American Coffee Bureau, launching a radio, newspaper, and magazine campaign. According to one source, "The bureau gave a name and official sanction to a practice that had begun during the war in defense plants, when time off for coffee gave workers a needed moment of relaxation along with a caffeine jolt." It was so well publicized that it became a part of our daily language.
The Beverage of Love