In response to a study released Dec. 14 showing that the federal government has prevented, on a case-by-case basis, the release of virtually any new cigarette products in the United States in more than 18 months, The Daily Caller pays tribute to these vital American products with a new series, “Cigarette Reviews for the Uninitiated: 18 Brands in 18 Weeks.”
It is our hope that the research conducted herein by official TheDC cigarette critic Patrick Howley will inform and educate the public, as well as aid tobacco companies in their forthcoming product designs.
This Week’s Pack: The Marlboro “Red”
Known in the ‘50s as the Marlboro “regular,” this was the standard cigarette. Before cigarettes were sold to men for the purpose of sexual solicitation, they were allowed to revel in their polarizing maleness, their seductiveness muted and irrelevant, their purpose utilitarian.
Philip Morris introduced the Marlboro in 1955 as the first filtered cigarette mass-marketed to male consumers. Executives actually feared that the brand would not be masculine enough to sell. American men had never before embraced filtered cigarettes, which were then associated with women and lung-cancer conspiracy theorists.
Designer Frank Gianninoto created the Marlboro pack.
“Gianninoto’s simplification was, in fact, very like the Campbell’s soup can — red on top, white on the bottom,” wrote the New York Times in some 1995 anti-smoking piece.
“Emerging at a moment when American cars, houses and products were becoming increasingly elaborate, Marlboro has the stripped-down, one-size-fits-all quality characteristic of the most enduring American designs,” the Times continued.
That’s true. And it was a good thing.
We were all American men, with one shared set of values and one clear international enemy. In the face of nuclear destruction, we survived and prospered within our commonalities.
The Marlboro smoking experience, then, is fitting for its purpose. It’s quick, standard and hits all the right points.
Densely concentrated at its tip, the Marlboro requires a concerted initial pull from the chest. The taste hits the back of the mouth first, tinny and pointed, a quick alert that the experience is underway. The smoke comes in fast and runs fast for the throat, forcing the participant to hold in for a moment’s reflection.
Only at this point does the smoker appreciate the full thickness of the product he has just inhaled. He enjoys the unexpected pleasure of being able to control it, maneuver it for a few split seconds so as to cover selected points at the top of the chest. This moment is most satisfactory, providing a warmth and respiratory presence so lacking from other cigarettes.
The exhale, too, is thick, requiring work from the mouth, shaping the lips into a crude circle as the ingredients are let go unfashionably into the air. The taste lingers at the roof of the mouth, identical to the initial taste, for a few seconds. Though creating a noticeable dryness in the region with repeated efforts, this effect necessitates a second inhalation to alleviate it.
Reports of a substantial “buzz” from the Marlboro are misleading, often emanating from the feminized reaches of modern cigarette appreciation.
Ask the young people of modern America about this brand (known to them, in alarmist terms, as a Marlboro “red”) and they’ll either wince at its gratuitous potency or smirk about its macho reputation.
“Delicious and very strong, they make me feel like a total badass whenever I smoke them. The packaging is highly classic and very cool,” said a critic on cigreviews.com.
These postmodern critics are responding to the Warhol painting, and not the soup can.
This is a thick and thorough brand, to be sure, but very pedestrian in its goals.
Its combination of pre-taste, post-taste, speed, thickness, and chestal warmth provides sufficiency across five different categories. Similar brands may provide one or two of these pleasures, but few brands can hit a “B+” level at every stage of the smoking experience.
Marlboro’s allure, then, is in its manufactured completeness. The smoker knows what to expect with every drag, and with every drag his expectations are met. To deny the effectiveness of the Marlboro, even for the most refined cigarette aficionados among us, is to deny the mechanics and benefits of smoking.
The Daily Caller Grades The Marlboro Regular: B+