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General Forms Foundry Tobacco Co.

Aug 20, 2013 | By Gregory Mottola

What do electric chairs, mermen and the periodic table of the elements have in common with the typical cigar smoker? Until recently, the practical answer was probably nothing. Now that General Cigar Co. has formed the Foundry Tobacco Co., the fantastic, the whimsical and the experimental all take shape in the form of Foundry's unusual cigars and unconventional packaging.

Foundry was first conceptualized last year by General's Creative Director Michael Giannini, who was inspired by Victorian-era science fiction, the Steampunk genre and the mechanisms of England's Industrial Revolution to create a new line of cigars with tobacco combinations previously unknown to General. The packaging, which played a major role in the Foundry line, was curious and novel.

This year, Giannini has gone full steam ahead with the Foundry Tobacco Co., an entirely new subsection of General that allows him creative license for both blending and packaging. In keeping with the mysterious nature of the project, Giannini keeps tobacco information on all Foundry products secret.

Take for example Foundry: War of Currents. Through tobacco and decorative packaging, this new cigar line aims to retell the story of the 19th century scientific rivalry between Thomas Edison, who was a proponent of direct current (DC) electrical power, and Nikola Tesla, who advocated alternate current (AC). Four cigars reflect Edison and Tesla's more controversial inventions. Belgrade, which measures 5 3/4 inches by 60 ring gauge, is named after the Serbian city where Tesla published his treatise on the notorious particle beam weapon coined the "Death Ray." Auburn, which measures 6 by 50, recalls the electric chair, an infamous invention created by Edison's employees and first used at New York State's Auburn prison back in 1890. Both boxes feature period reprints of their respective newspaper articles on the lid. Madison, a 6 by 57 cigar, and Menlo, which measures 5 by 60, round out the new line.

Foundry's Compounds, Elements and Musings line is also an exercise in creative packaging and interpretation. Giannini chose 12 items from the periodic table of the elements and gave them new meaning in the form of cigars. Europium is expressed as a 7 inch by 60 smoke and comes packaged in a vintage luggage-style box depicting a merman. Plutonium's packaging is made to look like a cluster of four dynamite cylinders. Each cylinder holds a different blend, though the cigars are all the same 5 by 50 size. Vanadium (6 1/8 by 54) comes in a giant V and Carbon (5 1/2 by 60) cigars are packed in boxes of 75. Other varieties include Argon, Xenon and H2O.

Cigars in the War of the Currents series will retail from $7.95 to $9.45 while cigars from Compounds, Elements and Musings are set to retail from $4.99 to $6.99. Although these smokes all fall under the Foundry umbrella, each cigar is an entirely different blend. All Foundry products begin shipping on September 24.

For a complete listing of everything coming out of Foundry Tobacco Co. this year, see the current Cigar Insider.

"I wonder how many Steampunk conventions Michael Giannini attends a year and if he's in full garb. That would be quite a site to see. " —August 22, 2013 11:32 AM
"Brian, the box of Carbons in the slideshow was the display box General used to show the cigars at IPCPR. The 75-count boxes will look similar, but are not yet finished. Sorry for the confusion." —August 21, 2013 16:38 PM
"I don't get it." —August 21, 2013 10:45 AM
"There are AT LEAST 350 cigars in the photo of the Carbons. Which is exactly, mostly, like 75." —August 20, 2013 21:13 PM

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