Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Love Boat Now Serving Maxwell House Coffee

It's not really the love boat but I got your attention now, or perhaps you ran away screaming at the mere mention of that old sitcom.  I found this ad to be interesting because Maxwell House coffee ads never depicted ships.  Usually it was some domestic dinner scene because back in the old days people used to drink coffee morning noon and night.  I suppose Maxwell House was a better brand back then, it certainly was famous enough, but I wouldn't touch it.  I prefer my coffee fresh ground and even though the Maxwell House Factory is here in town I still prefer a better grade of coffee in my morning cup.  I admit it, I'm a coffee snob.  I also have a preference for New Orleans style coffee with chicory.  There's something about drinking a good chicory coffee that just makes the coffee so smooth.  Besides, that Maxwell House stuff they sell in the stores, how long has it been sitting on the shelf?  There's also a very good reason coffee is the high selling point of an SS Leviathan voyage.  It was 1923 and prohibition was is full swing.  No alcohol was allowed to be served on US registered vessels plying the 7 seas (that sucks).

About the ship in this ad, I don't think that any ship had as much of a hard luck life as this one.  She was commissioned as the SS Vaterland in 1913 (that's Kaiser Wilhem in the picture at left) and entered service in early 1914.  After performing only a handful of trips she was trapped in Hoboken NJ at the outbreak of World War I.  She sat there until the US Navy seized her in 1917 after America entered the war and she was put into service as a troop ship.  After some initial problems she was to find the next 3 years to be the finest of her life, ultimately transporting 119,000 US Troops to France and after the Armistice in Nov 1918 she made 9 trips taking troops home.  After decommissioning her troubles began anew.  She was acquired by I.M.M. after the war but alot of political wrangling ensued afterwards led by William Randolph Hearst who felt that the liner should go to an all American company.  She languished in limbo until 1922 when she was finally sailed to Virginia and refitted for passenger service.

Done in a rather gorgeous Louis XVI style with 1920's Art Deco touches she  was popular with American's traveling back and forth to Europe.  Unfortunately she was also a victim of Prohibition.  Being an American registered ship, she could not serve alcohol and hence never got the passenger numbers of British, French and Italian registered ships.  The 1930's and the Depression saw a drop off of passengers and by 1938 she was showing her age and was finally retired out of service and scrapped.  In the 21 years in American service, she carried half a million passengers and never made a profit.


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