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An Interview with Stanford Newman

Chairman, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., Tampa, Florida, the owners of Cuesta-Rey and Diamond Crown cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Claudia Schiffer, Jul/Aug 97

(continued from page 1)

CA: Earlier, you said that all the cigars at the turn of the century were handmade. When did the transition to machine-made cigars take place?
Newman: Let me go back a little here, too. There was a man by the name of J.B. Duke who put all the cigarette companies together. He also purchased and bought every machine that was ever patented to make cigarettes. He formed the American Tobacco Co. In 1911, Teddy Roosevelt, who was a trust-buster, broke up the cigarette companies. That's when companies like United States Tobacco were started, and their business was the snuff or chewing tobacco business. The American Tobacco Co. had all the cigarette machinery, and they started making a cigar-rolling machine. My father bought some of the first machines that the company put out in about 1915. My father had one factory that he opened using machines exclusively to make cigars. You know, cigarettes weren't that popular at the time. It was during World War I that the cigarette companies gave out millions of packs of cigarettes to the Red Cross and they became apart of the rations pack. So, when [the soldiers] came back they smoked cigarettes, not cigars. At the time, my father had three factories, and he had to close two of them because none of the new smokers wanted to smoke cigars.

CA: When did cigars, machine-made cigars, really become the dominant part of the cigar industry?
Newman: In the early '20s. When the General Cigar Company and the Consolidated Cigar Companies and others were formed in the '20s, they all put in machines. That drove a lot of the small cigar factories out of business because they couldn't make as many. The smaller factories didn't have the capital to buy machines and eventually they began merging into bigger companies or they went out of business.

CA: Was the quality of the tobacco used in the 1930s the same whether it was handmade or machine-made?
Newman: Yes.

CA: Then it was just a question that producing machine-made would involve lower costs and that would drive the handmade guys out of business.
Newman: There was one other factor. These large factories started to grow their own tobacco in Connecticut; Consolidated grew their own. Bayuk was a big factor. Bayuk made Phillies, which used be known as Philadelphia Handmades, and they changed the name when they went into machines, to Phillies. It was a cost factor, but on the tobacco end. The smaller companies couldn't buy the tobacco as cheaply as the big companies could produce it for.

CA: The tobacco then became the key. In 1900, all cigars were handmade. They were not branded, so it was essentially a commodity. Where did the tobacco come from?
Newman: In 1900, Connecticut shade had just started in quantity. But most of the wrappers were from Sumatra or Java.

CA: What about the binder and the filler?
Newman: Some binder and filler had started to be grown in Connecticut at the turn of the century. And much of the filler came from Havana, Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania, to a great extent. Most of these cigars had a blend of Pennsylvanian and Cuban tobacco.

CA: How did the tobacco change in the 1930s when machine-rolled cigars became dominant?
Newman: In the '30s, the wrappers were coming from Connecticut and also from Sumatra and Java.

CA: What about binders and fillers?
Newman: The binders were mostly coming from Connecticut.

CA: The Dominican Republic and Honduras and Nicaragua didn't play any role?
Newman: They didn't exist.

CA: What role did Cuba play?
Newman: Cuba was supplying tobacco to most of the manufacturers, in Tampa. After we moved to Tampa, up until the embargo, we used 100 percent Cuban tobacco.

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Comments   1 comment(s)

Clifford Brown — independence, ky, usa,  —  May 14, 2013 3:47pm ET

That is a truly amazing article!

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