In the world of cigarettes, innovation abounds. Can you imagine being so addicted to cigarettes that you would create an umbrella just for your cigarette? Never mind that your whole body is going to get soaking wet as long as you can continue to “enjoy” your cigarette without the rain unnecessarily dousing it. Well that is exactly what this 1931 invention was for.
Tobacco has been viewed both positively and negatively in America. It was a staple crop of Virginia and other southern colonies in the 1600’s and was used not only for recreational purposes but medicinal purposes as well. As discussed by Amarilla Blondia in her article titled, Cigarettes and their impact in World War II, cigarettes were viewed by the military as providing relief to the soldiers from physical and mental stresses and a pack of cigarettes was even included in military personnel’s daily rations during World War II. In addition, numerous ads in the 1900’s glamorized smoking such that Cartier even made cases, holders, etc. This Antiques Roadshow link shows a 1910 Cartier cigarette case. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/season/9/reno-nv/appraisals/cartier-cigarette-case-ca-1910–200404A50.
In the early twentieth century smoking was so ensconced in the social and cultural values that it was even referenced in cartoons. For example, Bugs Bunny played off of the cigarette packaging method of putting two cents inside the cellophane package. In the episode of Bugs Bunny titled “Hare Do” (as shown on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Shf29gXrM18), which came out in 1948, Bugs Bunny buys a carrot out of a vending machine. Bugs puts his money in the machine and out comes the carrot wrapped in cellophane with two pennies “change” inside. This was a reference to the two pennies found inside a pack of cigarettes when purchased from a vending machine. The pack cost 23 cents at the time, but the vending machine did not take pennies. Individuals purchasing a pack of cigarettes would put a quarter in the vending machine and get their two cents change wrapped within the pack of cigarettes’ cellophane. Additionally, I found a Looney Tunes Smoking Montage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaTDAE9FncE. The youtube clip plays a country western song called “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette” by Tex Williams from 1948 and shows various cartoon characters smoking in a myriad of cartoon clips between 1938 and 1990.
I find it extremely odd to see that someone would create an umbrella specifically for a cigarette and not include the person smoking it. But more than that, it seems weird to me in context with today’s societal and cultural values. In today’s society, you do not see weird inventions like that pictured above to enable people to be able to smoke easier. The health hazards of smoking are well-established and documented so much so that we now have bans on smoking in restaurants, bars, airplanes, office buildings, and nearly any public area. If you did see an invention like the one above, it would probably be as a joke and have an implied message for people not to smoke.