The secret to the success of any business is to please the customer. At Cigar Aficionado, you readers are our customers, and we’re fond of saying that we have the greatest readers in the world. We hear from you regularly thanks to the many letters that you send, as well as the comments you leave on our website and our social media channels. We see you thanks to the amazing photos you submit to Moments to Remember and we get to meet you at our Big Smoke events. Without the passion of the Cigar Aficionado reader, this magazine would not be enjoying its 30th anniversary.
So when we set out to plan this special issue, we thought an important element to the package would be a story celebrating some of our most enthusiastic and loyal readers. To choose them we asked you to send in letters and photographs explaining what makes you a Cigar Aficionado Super Fan.
Our plan was to name one winner, but your submissions were so compelling that when editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken reviewed the entries he decided to name three. Those winners will each receive two VIP, All-Access tickets to a Big Smoke of their choice. We have also named four honorable-mention winners who will each receive a copy of this 30th anniversary issue personally signed by Shanken.
Thanks to all of you for your support. Some of you have been with us from the very beginning, others for decades or years, and some of you are possibly even reading your first issue. Thanks for being with us. We plan on doing this for a long, long time.
Fort Worth, Texas
Dear Marvin, I started reading your magazine in the 1990’s while traveling on planes. I liked it so much, I decided to subscribe and have ever since. I saved the magazines in boxes over the years much to the aggravation of my wife. I moved to a new office in October of 2020. I was discussing with my daughter possible decorations for the walls and she suggested removing the covers from the magazines, laminating them and hanging them on the wall in a collage. The pictures attached are the result of her efforts. Clients that visit our offices love the idea. There are approximately 130+ covers and several more I haven’t laminated as of yet. I will continue to add to the collection.
Aubyn St. George Scott
Dear Marvin, There is no better way to spend a day than surrounded by good friends old and new, enjoying a fine Cuban cigar and an exceptional glass of Bourbon. Thank you, Mr. Shanken, for sharing with me your love of cigars and finer things.
Dear Marvin, Growing up in a North Jersey Italian family in the ’60s, cigar smoking was a way of life. My uncles, roofers from Patterson, existed on Parodies. I loved the smell—I loved my uncles. So, before it was the cool thing of the ’90s, I became a cigar smoker in the 1980s. You can imagine my delight when the Premier Issue of CA hit the newsstands in the fall of ’92! It was a massive issue, and I loved every page. So much, that when I was finished, I couldn’t bear to throw it away—and I didn’t. In fact, I subscribed immediately and have kept every issue from then until now. The last couple of issues rest on my office coffee table, while I keep the “archives” in boxes in my attic.
While discovering Cigar Aficionado in 1992 was a great moment, THE GREATEST MOMENT EVER was the announcement of The Big Smoke at the Marriott Marquis. Look, I was there for the births of my three kids, and they all were very nice—but this was going to be amazing! I absolutely could not miss it! I made it to the first one, and then attended ten more throughout the years (I saved all of the programs too). But let me be clear, the Big Smoke had to be celebrated in style. I grabbed three of my best pals to attend the event with me.
Living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (about 85 miles from New York City) we needed to make travel arrangements befitting the Big Smoke. I asked a friend who owned a limousine company if he had an old limo that we could smoke in. To my surprise, he said it was no problem and sent an ancient Cadillac—something from The Godfather—where the seats faced each other. We smoked cigars from Bethlehem to NYC where we would meet my cousin Richie at the Port Authority, then it was off to the Marquis. We made sure to attend the 4:30 session because we had reservations at a New York steakhouse at 8. What can I say? We were younger.
Remember, this was the ’90s so we dressed in ties and jackets, and you could smoke cigars at the steakhouses. The night just kept getting better. At the end of the evening, we’d drop Richie off and head home—with one final stop. We always hit H & H Bagels across from the Intrepid. There, we would buy dozens of bagels for future consumption (and a dozen for the driver). The limo smelled of cigar smoke and onion bagels. We did the same routine for 10 events—how sweet it was!
I’m on the back end of my 60s now, my uncles are long gone. The H & H store is gone too, along with a couple of the steakhouses. Political correctness, politics, smoking bans and woke everything kinda put the kibosh on the NY cigar smoking scene. However, my buddies and I (and Richie) still talk about those fantastic CA road trips. I enjoy such wonderful memories that were created from Cigar Aficionado. Am I a “superfan?” Yes. But more importantly, I am a grateful one. Happy Anniversary, Marvin, and the CA team!
Adam R. Frederick
Dear Marvin, I was 22 in 1993 when I smoked my first Arturo Fuente Signature Maduro, and a whole new world opened up. I picked up an issue of CA to learn as much as I could: cigars weren’t cheap, and I didn’t want to waste money on a crappy stick. I soon learned that the Top 25 was a good jumping-off point. I went to the first Big Smoke in Las Vegas, $125 a ticket, and 19 consecutive Big Smokes after that. When I saw Marvin walking around, I told him it was a bargain at twice the price (sorry everyone)! The year I got married on October 31, I told my wife we can change the date or we can go to the Big Smoke on November 1. She agreed, and we have been married for 25 years!
I’ve smoked a lot of cigars over the years. I even got a Cigar Aficionado tattoo. Thank you for helping me navigate the world of cigars!
New York, New York
Dear Marvin, I began my journey as your typical nearly broke college student. In the early ’90s rush week started with smokers. The cigars were cheap machine-mades, and while I didn’t find a frat that I liked, I did find that I enjoyed the cigars.
My parents were subscribers to Wine Spectator and I happened to be home when the cigar special arrived in their mailbox. I was fascinated by the articles about premium cigars but since I was on a college student budget I never sought them out. After graduation I got an overseas fellowship and my life changed. I found myself in a duty free shop that had a special on Cuban Romeo y Julieta tubos for the equivalent of $200 per box. I splurged, and also bought your Spring 1996 issue to read on the plane. I swore never to smoke a machine-made again. I finished the box and when the fellowship ended, I bought another box that I hid in my dirty laundry to bring home. I shared them with my father and we started to smoke cigars regularly on the golf course. When I moved out to my own apartment we started to attend the Big Smoke New York. We would hustle to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square after work to spend the evening smoking, drinking and eating. It became a tradition.
Starting in 2003, I attended the Big Smoke Las Vegas as part of my annual vacation. I truly found my happy place. The seminars appealed to my cigar geek side as I eagerly absorbed the subtle differences between primings, regions, fermenting and all the other aspects that make a cigar a consumable work of art. I gained a better appreciation for fine liquors as well thanks to the pairing seminars. I always stocked my home bar with a new bottle or two after attending the pairing seminar and learning how much I liked the whiskeys presented.
I attended each Big Smoke Las Vegas until 2019, with the exception of 2011 when my wife’s best friend scheduled her wedding on the same day. The wedding was called off at the last minute but it was too late to attend. I am still bitter over that.
Cigar Aficionado was always one of my go-to reads when I needed to slow down. Nothing helped me center myself and deal with life and its challenges more than being able to enjoy a cigar and read the magazine. I was always informed and entertained when I picked it up and counted down the days for the next issue.
Corey Darnell Bullock Sr.
High Point, North Carolina
Dear Marvin, I have and have read every last issue. I recall reading that first issue as I held my first daughter on my lap. I celebrated my first cigar (Punch) that year. You guys taught me the ropes issue after issue. I now am asked constantly “where do I gain my knowledge?” Not only cigars but style, tech, fine drinks, automotive, jewelry, sports, you name it you guys bring it. You bless me with so many jewels. Now, my friends and business associates live by your issues.
So thank you for 30 years of pleasure. Also cheers to 30 more.
Francis J. McCormick
Voorhees, New Jersey
Dear Marvin, I happened to be searching YouTube videos and stumbled upon a video of you and Michael Jordan talking about cigars. This moment changed my life forever. I started to search more interviews and segments from Cigar Aficionado and I never looked back. I used the magazine’s guidance and direction with selecting cigars and started to smoke cigars and love them. It is the one activity that truly gives me complete satisfaction to relax and enjoy the moment with friends and family. Thank you for all you do at the magazine because your impact on individuals’ lives is immeasurable and is much more far reaching than you can ever imagine. I hope to enjoy your magazine and cigars for another 30 years.