Giant Cigars
A National Cigar Museum Exhibit
© Tony Hyman
        On November 18, 2006, at the Cigar Heritage Festival in Tampa, a 101 foot long cigar was presented in a successful effort to establish an entry in the Guiness Book of Meaningless Records. Though the biggest, this certainly wasn’t the first giant cigar to be used for promotion. It broke the record of 62’ 5” set the previous year by Patricio Peña whose Puerto Rican team of rollers from the Don Rey factory spent three days on their creation.
        Presented here, in roughly chronological order, are a few other of history’s giant cigar promotions included in the National Cigar Museum’s archives.
1936  German cigar Museum
    German lovely in a most phallic pose on a postcard identified as a display from Deutsches Tabak - und  Zigarrenmuseum.
Riesenzigarre: Longe 1,70 m, Umfang 0,68 m
Gewicht 18 pfund, theoretische Brenndauer
600 Stunden, Baujahr  1936
1950’s giant cigar box
    Giant cigars were everywhere for a century or more, but giant cigar boxes were rare.
    From the back of the 8” x 10” glossy:
    “Rita Hack & Italian Queen Anne Randazzo. Photo by J.T. Rummel, Higganum, CT.”  
    “Tobacco Valley Queen.”
    One lady is holding a ROBT. BURNS box, the other an EL TRELLES.
Fake giants
    These drawn cigars represent the three top brands of Philadelphia’s Bobrow Bros: TOPIC, BOLD, and LA TOSELLA posing along side Miss America.
1930’s Federal delivery truck
    The giant Federal Cigar Co., Inc., with branches in Red Lion, Franklintown, Wrightsville, and York, created the popular and “Truly Different” RED DOT, a cigar that was “Sweet and mild” and “Clear to the lips,” whatever that meant. The Company gave retailers a 3-foot long cardboard cigar similar to the six-footer atop their delivery vehicles.
1920 delivery vehicle
      G.J. Johnson, a Grand Rapids, Michigan cigar maker (Factory 45, 4th District), sported both a giant cigar and giant cigar smoker on their delivery car. EL PORTANA was the company’s 10¢ brand. Johnson made a great many 5¢ custom brands for wholesalers and retailers across the country.
    Photo blown up from a postcard, probably the only readily available image in this exhibit.
1979 European giant
    The UPI caption:
      “TWO MEN at Schmidt Cigar factory in Copenhagen examine “Los Gigantos”
-- a nine-foot, two inch, 60-pound cigar -- created by three cigar workers after 415 hours of rolling tobacco.”
1940’s and another Tampa giant
    Giant cigars are apparently a good way to get your photo in the paper in Florida. This 8” x 10” glossy is imprinted “Tampa Times” on the back, but is otherwise unidentified as to place and people. This glum group looks as if they just got word that import taxes on Cuban tobacco had doubled. The only happy guy is the one getting the six foot segar.  
    Whose cigar band is that? If you can identify the group or the band, I’d love to hear from you.
1941 publicity stunt for the Florida Fair
    “A lot of publicity-building smoke was what the Tampa Cigar Manufacturers’ Association sought when it built this 14-foot cigar and invited these pretty girls to pose with it to provide the “oomph” every tobacco connoisseur seeks in his favorite stogies....
Purpose of the publicity is to advertise the association’s annual cigar show at the Florida Fair.  No need to worry about the evident waste of tobacco here. The cigar is hollow and it isn’t tobacco.”
   From the Tampa Daily Times, 9-8-41.
    The use of ‘stogie’ to describe the clear Havanas for which Tampa was famous must have horrified that city’s cigar men. For the uninitiated, stogies and cigars are NOT the same. The words ‘connoisseur’ and ‘stogie’ don’t belong in the same sentence.
1935 gift for a band leader
    Giant cigar made for orchestra leader Vincent Lopez, shown acting as if he’s smoking the 92” novelty cigar created as part of the 1935 Jubilee. No mention is made in The Tampa Daily Times of the company who made the monstro, but all three young ladies got their names in the paper for holding and ‘lighting’ it.
    The cigar got mentioned in “Ripley’s Believe it Or Not” news-paper column.
1935  celebratory float
    The Tampa cigar industry held a 50 year golden jubilee celebration in February 1935.
A lengthy front page article in the Tampa Daily Times, from whence comes the picture, didn’t identify the sponsor of the float.
c1940 distributor’s Christmas cigar car
    This wonderful giant cigar is the creation of Merchants Cigar and Candy Co. of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the late 1930’s. Santa gave up his pipe in favor of a cigar.  Band is for HAV-A-TAMPA.
c1920 cigar distributor’s parade car
    “And the award for fattest parade cigar goes to...”
cigar distributor J.W. Benston,  of Freeport, Long Island, who decorated his vehicle with a fatty, flags, and ads for LA SARAMITA and ROSE-O-CUBA cigars.
    Heavily decorated, it is hard to decide the type of vehicle, let alone the model year.
    4”x6” Photo, not a postcard.
1914 tobacco wholesaler’s parade float
    This 1914 giant parade cigar was the brainchild of Reid Tobacco Co., a large Altoona, PA, distributor of cigars and tobacco. Collectors will find lots of business correspondence from Reid as their files were obtained by an antique dealer a good many years ago when they went out of business.
1908 cigar makers’ parade float
    Troy, NY, cigar makers Fitzpatrick & Draper photographed their July 4th parade float adorned with a giant cigar outside their factory (Fact. 73, 14th District NY). The band identifies the cigar as an F&D Perfecto.
    This image is copied from a salesman’s ad-vance card (see links at top of this exhibit).
c1900 Stogie Makers’ League parade float
    Parade float sponsored by William G. Stewart, Wellsville, Ohio, (Factory 1000, 18th District OH) and the National Stogie Makers’ League Local 19.
    Museum has another photo of the float showing 4 horse team and lots of union members riding the float.  Giant cigars were a popular addition to parade floats, documented photographically since the 1880’s.
1890’s cigar maker’s parade wagon
      The ‘birds’ pulling this parade float look like chicks or parrots, but the illegible brand name looks more like Ganders. Float probably from the
1890’s, though source and location unknown.
Source of this image unknown. The original is not part of the NCM collection.
1892 delivery wagon
      This giant cigar was commercially offered as a delivery wagon for advertising your cigar company. Advertising yes, but where to you put your goods?  Specifications in this January 1892 advertisement in The Hub magazine included: 36” and 46” wheels that were black and white with carmine striping, carmine colored seats, a tobacco brown cigar and your logo painted as desired. Cigar was a little more than 8 feet long.
[0934] Original image not in the NCM collection. Would very much like to obtain original magazine ad.
1873 cigar store cigar Indian
      Though technically not a giant cigar, it is a giant cigar store Indian which, according to text on the back of this rare CDV, was
“...made wholly of Segars, manufactured by William Haslam, 190 Fulton St., Brooklyn. For which he was awarded the First Premium and Silver Medal at the Kings County Exposition, 1873.  
7 feet 10 inches tall, contains 7,580 Segars. Come and see it!”
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Unidentified cigar
    Unusual in that a woman is portrayed as about to puff, and the man is lighting it for her.  Also unusual is that it appears to be a gag photo not associated with a particular company or event.
    This postcard is not in the NCM collection, so I cannot accurately provide the date or origin.