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The history of cigarettes: the No. 1 brand

So we talked about the events of 1911, when the U.S. government sued the American Tobacco Company tobacco Trust. Although the court found that despite the monopoly, Buchanan’s empire had not increased its prices, American Tobacco was accused of violating the Sherman Act. In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the trust should be divided into separate companies.

It may seem funny, but no one in the country was more qualified to divide the trust and not kill production than Buchanan himself! This procedure gave birth to the American Tobacco Company, Reynolds, Liggett & Meyers and Lorillard. The “downsized” American Tobacco Company retained most of the cigarette brands, such as Pall Mall, Mecca and Sweet Caporal. Liggett & Meyers got most of the smoking and chewing tobacco market and several cigarette brands, such as Fatima, Home Run, American Beauty, and Chesterfield.

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Lorillard took over the entire Turkish cigarette market, with brands like Turkish Trophies, Murad and Helmar. And R.J. Reynolds got… Nothing! The thing is, as we recall, the trust was divided by Buchanan and, since the purchase of a controlling interest in R.J. Reynolds, in the golden days of the trust, the relationship with Reynolds management did not work out. The president of the company, Richard J. Reynolds, was deeply resentful of Buchanan and emphasized this. He was a good manager, however, and Buchanan left him as president, but he took it out on R.J. Reynolds. Reynolds in the division of the trust. By 1911 R.J. Reynolds was left with only its brands of smoking tobacco and not a single cigarette brand for the booming market.

Reynolds was a peculiar man. When he was still working for the trust, he publicly stated that he would never use the tobacco variety known as “white berley,” considering it incomplete for smoking mixtures. However, in 1907, a pipe tobacco with white berley in its base, Prince Albert, came on the market. The new tobacco was so beloved by Americans that by 1912 it accounted for 15% of the entire national market.

Reynolds also swore publicly that he would “never produce cigarettes” because in his opinion they “catered to the tastes of the worst sections of society. Reynolds did not keep this oath either. The first brand was Osman cigarettes, a blend of latakia and other oriental varieties. The next was Reyno, a Virginia Bright Leaf cigarette. These cigarettes were sold in packs and tin boxes of twenty pieces, for ten cents. They were not popular, however, perhaps because of poor advertising of the product.

Red Kamel cigarettes were the next attempt by R.J. Reynolds’ next attempt to break into the cigarette market. Red Kamel was blended from Turkish tobaccos and had an interesting innovation at the time, namely a cork mouthpiece, the prototype of the future cigarette filter. Red Kamel also sold for 10 cents a pack, but it was not popular and was discontinued by 1909.

The next attempt to enter the big market was made by R.J. Reynolds. Reynolds made the next attempt to enter the big market with a mixture of Carolina Bright Virginia, white birley, and a small amount of oriental tobacco. History is silent as to where this recipe came from, according to one version it was the result of R.J. Reynolds blenders. Reynolds, according to another, Reynolds simply refined a bag of Prince Albert pipe tobacco. Whatever the case, the blend was flavorful and not as strong as the “Turkish” blends. So new cigarettes entered the market, cleverly named Camel. Although there was very little oriental tobacco in the blend, the pack was designed in the popular “oriental style” of the time – pyramids, palm trees, sand and, of course, a camel.

These cigarettes were first introduced in Cleveland, in 1913, and were an instant success. Smokers noted that the new cigarettes had the taste of expensive Turkish brands, but the smoke was much lighter. Reynolds was so encouraged by the long-awaited success that he withdrew some brands and focused on producing and promoting just Camel. So, that same year, the advertising budget for the new brand was an insane $1.3 million, making Camel one of the best-selling cigarettes in the United States. The following year, the advertising budget was increased to $1.9 million and sales increased even more, Camel now became a national brand and was sold everywhere, in all states. By 1917, every third cigarette sold in the U.S. was a Camel!

However, Camel was not the only American brand. The tobacco trust’s remaining “leveraged” cigarette brands were also actively “stepping on the heels,” but more about that in the next article.