Remembering Candy Cigarettes, Big Tobacco’s Most Evil Way to Turn Children Into Smokers
There was a time you’d think nothing of seeing young kids puffing on candy cigarettes. Parents would even hand them out on Halloween. Smoking was KOOL. “Just Like Daddy!” one candy ad promised. Hershey Corporation started the trend a century ago when it began hawking chocolate smokes, and by the 1920s, companies such as World Candies and Necco were selling a chalky white version. You could also get skinny bubble gum cigs in white paper tubes. Bonus: Blowing on them produced a little puff of gum-dust smoke.
It paid off, too: In a 2007 study that surveyed 25,000 people, researchers at the University of Rochester found that respondents who consumed candy cigarettes as kids were roughly twice as likely as those who hadn’t to report that they later became smokers. When tobacco companies eventually grew sensitive to negative PR and began policing their copyrights more aggressively, confectioners responded with a wink: “Marboro,” “Winstun,” “Kamel,” “Lucky Stripe.”