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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Grand Rapids Cigars

Grand Rapids Cigars

GRHC - August 18th, 2010

At the turn of the 20th Century, cigar smoking far surpassed all other forms of tobacco among Grand Rapidians.    



Since Native Americans first introduced tobacco to English explorers, preferences for its various forms of consumption have changed.

In the early 1900s Grand Rapids was a center for cigar production, when there were 37 cigar manufacturers in the city, including the G.J. Johnson Co., producer of one of the most famous cigar brands, Dutch Masters, and the lesser-known, El Portana.

A 1907 article in the Grand Rapids Herald claimed that smokers in the city consumed 40,000 cigars daily, which was considered a conservative estimate. The city’s smokers were spending $2000 a day on cigars; more than the $1800 spent daily on milk.

Tobacco sellers noted that the number of cigarette smokers had declined; probably 20 per cent of the city’s tobacco consuming citizens smoked cigarettes. They were not as popular in the Mid-West as in the south and east; the cigar led in popularity by a large percentage in Michigan.

Pipes were next in favor to the cigar and were gaining due to the number of well-pipes, an invention that gave a much “dryer smoke” than the old-fashioned kind; they were rapidly becoming the favorite among “tender tongued smokers” who found cigars too expensive and the old-style pipe “too beastly strong.”

Chewing tobacco sales were declining, but it was still used by the “old timers.” Snuff, used mainly by recent immigrants, was also declining in popularity.

Tobacco is still in the news, but today it’s more about health and regulatory issues than the preference for cigars, cigarettes, or pipe

Full Details

TitleGrand Rapids Cigars
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, cigars, smoking radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringAugust 18th, 2010

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