Saturday, April 13, 2024

Chew 'Em If Ya Got 'Em

The origins of Topps directly relate back to the American Leaf Tobacco Company, founded by family patriarch Morris Shorin (Chigorinsky at the time) in 1908 after he branched out from rolling cigars as his livelihood. ALTC operated more or less through 1938 and in between Morris and four of his sons dabbled in real estate and gas stations before Topps launched.  Using the tobacco jobber (wholesale) distribution network ALTC had relied upon gave Topps a big advantage when they started selling their namesake gum as they didn't have to build one from the ground up.

I have searched high and low for ALTC ephemera, to no avail despite what would seem like a perfect fit using matchbooks to advertise the business.  I don't expect there to be any remnants of their real estate business out there, while a fair number of promotional items from their American Gas Stations chain (17 Brooklyn locations at its peak) were produced and can be found with some diligence. 

So it's not surprising that Topps produced Bubble Gum Cigarettes at one point in their long history.  The product was called Nickel Pak, as this scan from BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd shows:

The typeface pegs this as early 60's effort, or thereabouts.  Topps loved to drop the "c" from "pack" as a distinctive mark-perhaps it allowed them trademark protections?  

Lonnie Cummins was able to provide a shot of the contents of one:

Those are actual graphics from the real coffin nail packs of the day kids-yikes! I see five different brands and suspect the use of real pack imagery was viewed as a good thing by the tobacco companies (and Topps!).

In terms of ownership, Pall Mall was/is a British American Tobacco Company brand, Winston is owned by R.J. Reynolds and Chesterfield belongs to Philip Morris (as does the namesake pack).  Kool is another British American produced brand but is owned by Imperial Tobacco-dig the penguin! So it was a group effort to market to the kiddies.

I'm finding conflicting information but Candy cigarettes were seemingly banned by the F.D.A. in the U.S. only as late as 2009 but oddly Bubble Gum cigarettes appear to still be OK to sell, so long as the packaging does not resemble the adult product. Weird.

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