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Monday, March 30, 2015

Forgotten Cigarette Brands Part II


If there is one post on this blog that has gotten indisputably the most views of all, it is the Forgotten Cigarette Brands post, scoring nearly 27,000 views (and the most comments ever) in the two years it's been published.

For those who enjoyed that post, I'm happy to inform you I've only scratched the surface. It's a smoker's goldmine out there and I had been planning some sequels.

So back to the cigarette aisle of yesteryear.......

Magna (Late 1980s) - Magna as I remember was pretty harsh tasting discount brand (we used to call it "Magma") targeted to young men. They were the brand you bought when you didn't have enough to buy Marlboro or Camel. But didn't want to be seen with a generic brand cigarette.

Mapleton (1970s?) - This one was a "flavoured" cigarette, blending maple and rum with tobacco to give it a taste I shudder to think. This wouldn't be the only one - or the most extreme. There was also...

Twist (1970s) Twist was - brace yourself, a LEMON flavored MENTHOL. Gives "pucker up" a brand new meaning.

Cambridge (1980s) Cambridge was a discount brand that tasted like a Merit clone. I actually liked Cambridge. But they vanished by the early '90s.

Now (1980s) A low tar brand.

Bucks (1990s) was a '90s discount brand. Not the greatest smoke. But it worked when you needed the nicotine.....

Free (Early 1980s) - To quote Dorothy Parker "What fresh hell is THIS?"A NON-TOBACCO cigarette? Yup, Free was the brand you sought when Carlton was simply too much. I tried a Free back in 1981 and I gagged. I mean upchuck gagged. They were the worst EVER. Free didn't last long (obviously), first, they were horrible. Second, they got shoplifted a lot by unsuspecting smokers ("But officer, it says it's 'Free'!" If I were a cop, I'd have let the shoplifter go and let karma do it's job.) And having no nicotine and questionable ingredients was a total buzzkill. And finally, you could legally sell these to kids, as it contained no tobacco and nicotine (therefore, no warning label either.) This upset a lot of parents. And Free vanished.

Go To Hell! (1983) - Go To Hell! (There, that settles it) was a novelty brand for pissed off smokers. In the early '80s, legislation in more and more states began limiting where you could or could not smoke. Up to then, it wasn't uncommon to see ashtrays in stores, hotels, beauty salons, city buses, airplanes, restaurants and virtually everywhere - even in doctor's officers and hospitals, you saw smokers everywhere happily puffing away. Well the non smokers began putting the kibosh on that in earnest. Starting with airplanes and little by little, the stores, buses, hotels, hospitals, everywhere became off-limits to the cigarette puffers, first in designated areas, and finally outdoors, then 25 feet away from building doors/windows. Then the restaurants and bars fell and today, it's against most apartment leases to smoke inside your own home. Well in 1983, some big tobacco companies smokers weren't going to take it. And they rebelled with a campaign for smokers to begin demanding their rights. And nothing brings about a friendly, intelligent, civil discourse like "Go To Hell!". Unfortunately for the smokers, the tide was turning irrevocably and now it's getting nearly impossible to smoke anywhere (In Seattle, they've recently began banning smoking in public parks.) Even though smokers are running out of places to smoke, I don't think tobacco will ever be made illegal. We're slowly ending one black market over one plant (marijuana) and quite successfully. We don't need to be creating another.

Campaign Cigarettes - Yes, you could even vote with your lungs as late as 1988. Even at that time, these weren't anything new, they were used in campaigns going back to Eisenhower/Stevenson. Nixon also freely handed them to his campaign workers.

More to come.....


  1. I remember most of these brands..except for the Campaign ones. Someone got me a "Go To Hell" pack on my Birthday years ago..and I tried "Free"..they were awful..and "Bucks" (they were a buck a pack).."Twists" (lemon Menthol)..they weren't bad.."Magna"..(gross).."Cambridge" (which came out in 1979 as a 1 mg. tar and nicotine..but were going nowhere) so was switched in the 80's to Full Flavor and Light's..but were awful..and "Mapleton"..from the 60's..my Dad liked those as a switch off from his "Old Gold"s"..and actually gave me one to try. They were really a pleasant tasting Maple and Rum smoke. I bought a Pack every so often too!!.These were a pipe tobacco variation of the same name. We could go on and on. I'm in my 60's, so I remember a lot of these. God knows, I tried a lot of them, if not all. This is a very nice memorial for all good things must come to an end. I miss the advertising for them. They all had a jingle..and sold a lot of smokes. Bad or otherwise..they will be around for quite awhile. Thanks for the memories!!!!

  2. Compared to NOW, Carlton and Vantage tasted like Chesterfield or Old Gold.

  3. I smoked Bucks in the mid 90s, mostly because my nickname was/is Buck. They used to sell cartons with T-shirts with sayings along with the deer logo. (ie: Buck the System, the buck stops here and the almighty Buck. Loved the shirts, cigs were okay.

  4. I have heard of "Always Save" soft pack but can't find info on it.

  5. I recall trying "Lemon Twist" as a child. Thank God I didn't like cigarettes!


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