Twenty-five years ago I fulfilled a longtime dream with the birth of Cigar Aficionado. My life has never been the same.
The world was different in the fall of 1992. The U.S. economy was coming off a tough recession and the recovery was slow. The stock market was in tough shape and unemployment was at its highest level in about a decade, nearly 8 percent.
Great time to start a magazine, right?
The cigar market was also in bad shape in 1992. Sales had been flat for years, cigars were selling for low prices to an aging consumer base and some brand owners were trying to discourage their children from following in their footsteps. Many thought the business didn’t have a future. A lot of people felt the same way about this magazine. If you read my Editor’s Note from that first issue, which we have reprinted to the left of this page, you can sense a hint of trepidation in my opening words: “To launch a new magazine in 1992 calls for a stiff drink and a fine cigar.”
I didn’t care. When I created Cigar Aficionado I didn’t do it for money and I didn’t give a damn that everyone told me not to do it. I did it because I love cigars, and I didn’t want to die without having a cigar magazine.
Cigar Aficionado did better than anyone thought it would, including myself. It helped elevate cigars in the public eye as we showed the world the love and dedication that goes into making this artisanal product. It helped demystify the cigar-shopping experience, as our blind tastings provided an objective buying guide to the daunting world of the store humidor. And it also brought cigar smoking into the light, out from the shadows. Some of the world’s most famous people have been on our cover over the past 25 years, from Jack Nicholson to Robert De Niro, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Demi Moore.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a long list of intriguing cigar lovers over the years, including Michael Jordan, the most popular athlete in history. He appears on our cover for the second time, and sits down for an all-new interview talking about his remarkable business success and his incredible love of fine cigars—he smokes six a day. It’s a conversation I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Cigar Aficionado would never have worked without the tremendous support of its readers. Some of you have been reading the magazine since that very first issue. Many of you have been with us for years. And I’m sure there are a few of you who are picking up your first copy. Thank you—all of you—for helping make Cigar Aficionado a success beyond my wildest dreams.
Very truly yours,
Marvin R. Shanken