Walk into any convenience store nowadays and you'll find a plethora of choices when it comes to cigars behind the counter. Some brands are new to the market - some have held a spot on those shelves for years.
But one brand has paved the way more than all the others - in more ways than one - and helped create the booming cigarillo market into what it is today. Some lead - some follow - but there's only one that has introduced more in the way of innovation for the market by giving their customers what they asked for.
That brand is none other than Swedish Match's White Owl.
In today's world, White Owl's are one among the many choices you have when it comes to a mass-market cigar. However, you can't deny that White Owl's innovative spirit led the way and has kept it a top-selling brand and paved the way for the sea of cigars available today and still a respectable cigar in every circle.
White Owl's story begins dating back all the way to 1887 when Ferdinand Cullman and his son, Joseph, started selling cigars in addition to their wine business in New York. In 1906, they formed United Cigar Manufacturers, which would be later renamed General Cigar in 1917. Noticing trends in cigar smokers preferences, General Cigar focused efforts on five cigar brands catering to each. White Owl was one of these five initial national brands and gained serious market attention. (An interesting side-note - Cullman the 2nd and his brother owned an investment company named Cullman Brothers Incorporated and purchased the Benson & Hedges brand. Joseph Cullman's son, Joseph Cullman the 3rd, worked for Benson & Hedges as executive vice president until 1953, where the group traded it for stock in Phillip Morris, where he was then appointed vice president at Philip Morris in 1954; executive vice president in 1955; president and CEO in 1957; and chairman of the board and CEO in 1967, a position he held until 1978.)
In the early 20's, White Owl introduced the foil fresh wrap, guaranteeing their consumers that each and every White Owl would be "foil fresh". The market agreed with the move and by 1930, White Owl was the largest selling mass-market cigar in the country.
To add even more popularity, baseball legend Babe Ruth and his wife, Claire, together endorsed White Owl's in print ads, claiming that the mild cigar taste was "kind to kisses".
In 1944, White Owl made an unprecedented move and shook the industry by downsizing the popular panatela cigar and introduced the first cigarillo to the market - setting the standard for near 95% of products selling on convenience store shelves today.
Just a few years later, White Owl introduced the smoking world to the homogenized tobacco leaf wrapper - making a more uniform and smooth smoke. Some of today's top selling cigarillos on the market use this type of leaf wrapper, such as Swisher Sweet and Dutch Masters.
In the late 90's, manufacturers began testing the market with flavored cigars - bringing one or two to the market to see how it would do. Some survived - some failed. But around the turn of the century, White Owl broke the barrier again and introduced a line of flavored cigars with apple, blackberry, grape, peach, pineapple, strawberry and watermelon. Sales of their flavored cigars may not have eclipsed their main selling options, but over the next decade, more manufacturers jumped on the flavored cigar bandwagon and sales of flavored cigars tripled - comprising now 40% of the cigarillo market.
Then, in 2007, White Owl began packaging their cigars in resealable, smell-proof, foil pouches, where one could smoke a bit of their cigar - then have somewhere to stash it for safe-keeping til they wanted to smoke again. This one innovation can be found in just about every top selling mass-market cigar found on the market today. It's convenience at it's finest.
Today, White Owl is still a prominent brand, even among the vast array of choices available on the shelves. Those that choose White Owl are unwavering when it comes to their choice. (I once knew a guy who if passed a blunt would ask, "Is that a White Owl?" and if not - passed on it!) They are exactly what they claim in their advertising - smooth to the taste - and slow on the burn. White Owl smokers are tried and true. They know what they like - and they don't take substitutes. Even in sales, the three largest sellers are the "oldies but goodies" - the main line for any cigar - red, silver, and green. But over the years, White Owl has developed other lines to compete with today's market and serve their customer base.
Like most early cigars, White Owls were produced in Pennsylvania. Then in 1985, they moved their production facilities to Dothan, AL.
Then in 1999, General Cigar's machine-made cigar business acquired White Owl, along with Garcia Y Vega and Tiparillo by Sweden's mega-tobacco giant, Swedish Match.
If you've never tried a White Owl - the following are some of the top selling choices you'll find on the market today.
Made from Carribbean Basin Cuban seed tobacco and an all-tobacco, Indonesian wrapper, White Owl Mango has been rated as one of the top mango cigars on the market today.
Another new great flavor from White Owl, White Peach combines their unique blend of tobacco with the taste of fresh peaches. Takes you back to summertime - anytime!
If you're looking for the smoothest smoke without any added flavor, White Owl Platinum will certainly satisfy!
Some people call them Red, some call them Sweet - but whatever you call them, White Owl Red Sweet gives you a mild but sweet flavor for a tasty puff anytime!
Similar to Platinum, Silver also gives you a smooth smoke without any added flavor. Silver is a bit stronger of a smoke than Platinum.
One of White Owl's top sellers, Green Sweet is smooth with a fresh and crisp flavor added in to give you an enjoyable smoke anytime.
White Owl White Grape combines tangy white grape and smooth, creamy tobacco to bring you mouth-watering flavor in every puff.
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