Blog Steve Laug
I was visiting my brother in Idaho and we went pipe hunting to see what we could find in the various antique shops and malls near by his home. One of the places we went was closing and they had some junk pipes for sale, a boxed set of bowls for a Koolsmoke metal pipe and a few tobacco tins that they were trying to sell out before the shop closed forever. Everything was 50% off so I was hooked to do a bit of looking at things I don’t normally buy. I picked up the Koolsmoke pipe bowls, an old tobacco tin the read Allen & Ginter’s Genuine Louisiana Perique, Made in Richmond, Virginia on the top and sides and a cellophane sealed pouch of Eight Brothers Long Cut Tobacco. I have seen the brand advertised before and I have seen it sold back in my early years or so I thought! I have no idea what it is or what tobacco is in the pouch. I don’t know if it was a Virginia, Burley or even a Latakia. I can’t seem to find any information on the contents of the tobacco. I decided to do a bit of research and see what I could find out about the brand.
I started my search on Google with the name “Eight Brothers Long Cut Tobacco”. I found lots of empty tins for sale and thought that was a dead end. But it was not! I started to notice that the tins had different company names printed on them. Some were marked Swisher International Inc., others were marked Schmitt Brothers Tobacco Works, Penn Tobacco Company, Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company, Helme Tobacco Company, General Cigar & Tobacco Company and also Culbro Co. I had no idea of the historical line of the brand and where it started. I did not know which company came first and which came next, etc. I just new that the package I found read General Cigar & Tobacco Co. a Division of Culbro Corporation. So my work was cut out for me.
Here is what I found. (Throughout this blog I will use pictures I found on the web for this tobacco. The tins show the various iterations of the tobacco through various manufacturers.)
On the US Trademark website (http://www.trademarkia.com/eight-brothers-71539750.html) I found out that the brand was first owned by Swisher International, Inc. (Helme Tobacco Company). Here is what I read on the site: “On Friday, October 31, 1947, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for EIGHT BROTHERS by Swisher International, Inc., JACKSONVILLE 32206. The USPTO has given the EIGHT BROTHERS trademark serial number of 71539750. The current federal status of this trademark filing is EXPIRED. The correspondent listed for EIGHT BROTHERS is JUDITH D. COHEN of KANE, DALSIMER, SULLIVAN, KURUCZ, LEVY,, EISELE AND RICHARD, 711 THIRD AVENUE, 20TH FLOOR NEW YORK, N. Y. 10017 . The EIGHT BROTHERS trademark is filed in the category of Rubber Products . The description provided to the USPTO for EIGHT BROTHERS is SMOKING AND CHEWING TOBACCO.
It seems that the blend was sold to Schmitt Brothers Tobacco Works. This was an independent tobacco manufacturer, which was later bought by the Penn Tobacco Company of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Tins were printed Penn Tobacco Company during that time frame. In the photo below it reads Penn Tobacco Company and underneath it reads Successors to Schmitt Brothers Tobacco Works.I also found one that was printed Bloch Brothers Tobacco. From what I could find out on the web Bloch Brothers purchased the brand from Penn Tobacco Company and moved it to Wheeling, West Virginia. The tin below bears the name of Bloch Brothers and underneath reads Successors to Penn Tobacco Co.In 1969 Bloch Brothers/Penn Tobacco Co was sold to the General Cigar and Tobacco Company, which became a division of Culbro in 1978. The tin below is printed with the name General Cigar & Tobacco Co. I did some reading on the Culbro Company. Here is a link to the their website and specifically to the section on their history. http://www.culbro.com/about-us/our-history.html
Quoting from their site:
The Cullman family has a long history in all parts of the cigar industry. In 1961, Edgar Cullman, Sr., son of a tobacco grower and grandson of a tobacco merchant, entered the business of cigar manufacturing with the purchase of General Cigar, then a large maker of mass market cigars in the US. Under Edgar’s leadership, General Cigar entered the premium cigar industry and over time became the largest manufacturer and marketer of premium cigars in the US. Its leading brands include Macanudo, Partagas, Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey.
The cigar business was the core of General Cigar, but in the 1970s and 1980s, as cigars were experiencing declining consumption, the company diversified its holdings and changed its name to Culbro Corporation. During those years, it acquired, managed and sold a large number of businesses including Ex-Lax, a laxative maker, Bachman Foods, a snack food company, The Eli Witt Company, a wholesale distributor, Centaur Communications, a publishing company, CMS Gilbreth Packaging Systems, a manufacturer of packaging and labeling systems, and Bermas Plastics, a plastic cigar tip manufacturer. Culbro Corporation also formed a real estate development corporation which, when combined with Imperial Nurseries, ultimately became Griffin Land & Nurseries, Inc. and invested in HF, which subsequently became Doral Financial Corporation. Both of these companies were public spin-offs.
In 1997, when interest in cigars had resumed, Culbro once again took General Cigar public and split off the other businesses. A few years later, public markets lost interest in cigars, and General Cigar went private with the assistance of Swedish Match, a multiline tobacco business. Five years later Swedish Match acquired the whole business.
Culbro, LLC was formed in 2005 to bring the financial and operating experience of acquiring and managing businesses to bear in the private equity industry.
The label on my package is printed with the General Cigar & Tobacco Co. of Wheeling, West Virgina label. I know then that tobacco was manufactured between the dates noted above 1961-1969. 1969 was the date when Bloch Brothers Tobacco Co./Penn Tobacco Co. sold the brand to General Cigar & Tobacco. The other article note is that in 1961 Edgar Cullman, Sr. of Culbro Co. purchased General Cigar and tobacco. I believe that the package I have was made sometime during the 1960s (1961-1969).
A cellophane sealed Yellow Eight Brothers Tobacco package. Black print reads “Eight/Brothers/Mild Smoke/8 Brothers” over a circle that reads “ Mild Smoke on the top of the circle and “Pleasant Chew” on the underside. I the centre is an 8 over the word BROTHERS. Underneath the circle it reads “Long Cut Tobacco”. Both front and back are the same. On one side it reads “General Cigar & Tobacco Co.” with the following address: Wheeling, West Virginia. Underneath it has a CULBRO logo and reads “A Division of Culbro Corporation. On the other side it reads “Union Made” and has a bar code.Now I have a decision in front of me – do I open the pouch and fire up a bowl or do I leave it as a historical pouch from 50+ years ago. What do you think?
A friend on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Group on FaceBook posted the following link for more information. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/549 What follows is an interesting addition to the above information.
“Jesse Bloch was president of the company from 1937 to 1947. During his tenure, the company expanded by acquiring the Pollack Crown stogie and the Penn Tobacco Company. Jesse’s son, Thomas, continued as head of the company, adding the firm of Christian Peper Tobacco Company and its line of pipe tobacco products to the mixtures being made in Wheeling. Bloch Brothers was sold in 1969 to the General Cigar and Tobacco Company, which became a division of Culbro in 1978. The company was acquired by the Helme Tobacco Company in 1983 and now uses the name Swisher International. Mail Pouch, described by tobacco chewers as drier and not as sweet as some other chewing tobaccos, remains a popular product.”