Bad Brand Names

A National Cigar Museum EXCLUSIVE
© Tony Hyman

Life changes fast and things aren’t the same as 100 years ago for example. Back in the day only professionals were allowed to trade stocks. The internet changed everything as now everyone can be successful with Quantum Code from the comfort of their home.

When a company decides to offer a new product today, advertising consultants, psychologists, packaging experts, market researchers, budget analysts and layer after layer of executives get into the act. Surveys are taken, statistics are gathered, books are read, and decades of experience are considered. Even the most amateur of marketers knows the golden rules of successful advertising involve focussing on greed, health, beauty, family, and the good life with pictures of women, children, dogs and people having fun. Any advertiser that detours from that formulae does so at his own risk.

But it wasn’t always that way. More than a century and a half ago there were no such rules or guidelines. There were no experts, no ad agencies, no pollsters. In the 1840’s, when cigar merchandizers began selling cigars in consumer size packages they became advertising pioneers. Concepts we take for granted today… pictures of babies and dogs will outsell images of turnips and dead goats… didn’t exist. It was the cigar industry, almost single-handedly, that experimented with images and text and discovered the rules that everyone follows today.

The cigar industry’s influence on advertising and packaging became huge because the level of experimentation exceeded that of any other product in history. Cigars were the only commercially retailed product made by more than a quarter million U.S. factories in which everyone was involved. Cigar factories created brands. Cigar brokers created brands. Cigar wholesalers created brands, Cigar retailers created brands. And, unlike ANY other product, cigar consumers, the smokers themselves, created brands. For a penny or two per 100, anyone could picture or say anything they wanted on a cigar box. Millions of people had ideas.

Not all ideas were good.

Some were just OK.

J.B. Fralich Fact. 394, 9th (Manheim) PA 1911.
Actually more than one. The price is a clue
to just how OK they were.

Some cigars were downright peculiar.
Would you ask for one of these?

Batchelder Bros., 1876.
Better yet…three of them for only a nickle.

Would you buy a rotten one?
What’s in a name? A lot!

Fact. 1728, 14th Dist. NY c1912
This brand looks fine, until you say it out loud.
“Give me a sorry cigar.”

Fred Kolbe, Fact. 997, Lester Prairie, Minn. 1930.
A cigar with no appeal, but it has
an eye-catching label.

Fact. 495, 1st Dist. Ohio c1913
A fraudulent product at the biggest price.
Now there’s marketing for you.

R.J. Reynolds, 1937.
Puppies and babies are great, but how would
you feel asking for a sucker’s cigar?

Oscar Jaehrig, Fact. 274, 1st (San Diego) Calif.
Is a chump better than a sucker?

Barlow, Rogers & Simpson, Fact. 641, 21st NY.
(Binghamton) c1890.
Would you feel any better asking for this one?
“Gimme a misfit’s cigar.”

M. Brilles & Co., Fact. 231, 23rd (Allegheny) PA c1900. Possibly a brand of seconds.
Is an Old Nut worse than a misfit?

American Cigar Co., Westfield, Mass, c1902
Try asking for a Cyco cigar aloud. I comes out
psycho’s cigar. How’s that for niche marketing?

J.H. Roberts, Fact. 6 South Dakota, 1927.
A cigar for con-men? Politicians?

E.W. Washburn Fact. 484, Ist Wisconsin, c1905.
“Gimme a tramp’s cigar” lacks
a sophisticated ring.

Uncataloged, c1905.
Is it self-incrimination to ask for a Peeping Tom’s cigar? The ultimate in niche marketing.

Barnes Smith & Co. Fact. 1239, 21st NY
Binghamton, c1890.
“Would you like a beer with that?”

And this appeals to…?

J.C. Koester Fact. 718 1st (Lomira) Wisc, 1910.
A cigar named after a bug poison. Packed like it too. Would you smoke one, with that slogan.

George Knight Fact. 579, 1st Ill. (Chicago) 1912.
A 12/up can that’s very rare, with good reason.
What pleasant make-you-want-to-smoke-one image does this name conjure up? “Made of tobacco.” As opposed to what?

Daniel Spotts Fact. 3810, 9th (Red Lion) PA 1917 [1637]
Brand looks and sounds too much like “cruddy” to appeal to me. Begs to be called that.

Fact 803 (state missing), 1917-1918
If fads appeal, this is a hit. I can’t see a
serious smoker asking for “a fad cigar.”

H.A. Lundquist, Fact. 1 Minnesota 1929.
Fact. 1902, 1st Dist PA 1898
A giant rat with a negro baby riding on its tail.

L. & E. Kaufman, Fact. 4, 3rd NYC, c1886
Rat tails are long skinny cigars pointed both ends. [1619]
Does making them out of velvet make
them more smokable?

Wetzel County Cigar, New Martinsville, West VA. [1620]
Illustrate a river, call your cigar PURE GRIT and you have an image of sand in your food or butt crack. I’d rather have tobacco in my cigar.

Fact. 331, 1st PA 1941.
If you don’t like grit, screen out the big chunks.
What siftings do you want your cigar made of?

Lewyn & Martin, Fact. 34, 3rd NYC for a Texas retailer. The brand name is stolen from a magazine of the 1880’s. [1631]
The brand conjures images of licking a lead ingot, or cold grey lead shavings in your cigar.

George Biesmann Fact. 63, 1st (Galena) Illinois.
Local appeal brand. 1917-1918.
Custom brand for a Louisville paint company
perhaps because of the lead in the paint !?

Uncatalogued. c1910.
Straight to the point says the surgeon general.

Not in the NCM collection. [w0000]
Images of a cool, refreshing smoke.

John G. Spatz, Fact. 12, 1st PA in Reading created and manufactured this less that great idea.
Smoke quickly? The meaning of this is lost,
perhaps a local in-joke, but not appealing.

W.G. Suelke, Fact 1350, 1st PA (Quakertown).
Reminds me of a cheapskate prop girl who worked on Gene Hackman’s bad Western. Ask. [7898]
Not a red mark on your neck, but a chain of
cigar stores in the 1920’s.

Fact. 203 Iowa, 1928.
Black sheep are misbehaving outcasts.
Just the image you want for your product.

1917-1918. Catalog card missing.
ALL WOOL 2 1/2 YARDS WIDE. A wool cigar? Not if you have ever smelled burning wool.

Fact. 6 Vermont. Very early 1870’s style label
but this box was sold in 1896.
Speaking of great smells…

H.Fendrich, Fact. 202, 7th (Evansville) Indiana.
Speaking of great smells II…

Ruhe Bros. Fact. 956, 1st PA (Allentown) 1900±.
Smoking a mohair teddy bear is not a smell to look forward to either.

Tony Bennauer, Fact. 935, 1st (Mendota) Ill.,c1912
Burning feathers are no improvement.
Weirdest name for a cigar I’ve seen yet.

O’brien Bros, Fact. 4 IRD 34, Chatham, Ontario
Canada, c1886
Want a spider in your mouth? With most Americans afraid of spiders this seems chancy.

C.N. Hurd Fact. 35, Somersworth, NH, c1920.
If you think the brand name is bad, how about
the slogan: Smoke a Spider.

Not in the NCM collection. Photo courtesy of Steenburgh Auctions, NH.
How about a spider AND his web?
That’s a mouthful.

Holzman & Deutschberger Fact. 315,
3rd NYC. c1890
Putting a bee in your mouth can be fatal.

Delaware Cigar Co. Fact. 1429, 1st (Chester) PA
The same for a hornet.

Not in the NCM collection
Whatever you call it.

Fact. 3459, 1st PA c1890.
It may not kill you, but no fun to suck on.

P. Lorillard, Fact. 17, 2nd VA c1912
Squirmy in your hand; worse in your mouth.

Private label of KC, MO, grocery wholesaler. c1920
Another flying critter you don’t want
in your mouth.

Not in the NCM collection.
[w 0000]
This one’s no better…

Which end do you put in your mouth?

Catalog card missing.
Which end do you put in your mouth?

Catalog card missing.
Do you want your cigar mashed or French fried?

W.P. Lozier, Fact. 387, 1st (Mt. Pleasant) PA.
1936 [1640]
M-m good? This borders on preposterous.

Fact. 2099, 1st PA for GH Guppy, Portland, ME 1898. [11756]
Scrambled or hard boiled?

G. Fuchs, Fact. 681, 1st PA, Philadelphia 1893
An invitation to steal?
In reality, a successful European brand.

Jose Tinchant y Gonzales
In This Wheat By and By, one of the great pun brands, features cute locusts. But did it sell?

S.F. Hess, Fact. 369, 21st Rochester, NY, c1890
[9722] Not in the NCM collection. Xerox copy
courtesy of Chris Crocoll.
BFD. A brand with different meaning today, though a recent TV ad campaign is attempting to change the meaning to something less crude.
[wd64] Not in the NCM collection.
Bad brand name, for sure.
Perhaps the ultimate in bad slogans.

This chewing tobacco company might want to reconsider the layout and placement of “Scrap.”
[wd64] Not in the NCM collection.