Station: [15] Tobacco Marketing

Anyone buying cigarettes in France will look out for the red “carotte” Up on the wall by the door is an old version of this symbol of a tobacco shop. These days, the red carotte generally takes the shape of an illuminated sign with the legend TABAC. French tobacco dealers, who incidentally are licensed by the state, have had to display this emblem since 1906. In Germany, there are similar emblems, for example the sign for a chemist – a red and white capital letter A in Gothic script.

Other countries with government-licensed sales outlets opt to identify them with uniform enamelled signs, for example Austria or Italy.

There’s even a standard emblem for tobacco stores in the United States – a large figure known in the past as the “cigar store Indian” -- a Native American, gazing into the distance and holding a bundle of tobacco stalks.

Of course, cigar firms don’t have just a single product line. In the glass case on the short wall, you’ll find the various products marketed in 1975 by the cigar firm Franz Krämer of Seelbach -- by way of an example. At the bottom in the centre is the company rep’s case, in which he would have presented the products to the retailers. In the shop, a farmer or worker would have bought basic cigar seconds. They’re called “Fehlfarben” – off-shade – and are products sold at a reduced price because the wrappers aren’t identical in colour. But there’s no difference in flavour compared to a normal cigar from the same product line. On special occasions, the smoker might receive a more elaborately presented gift pack of cigars. They’d have had bands and in some cases been individually wrapped in cellophane.

All depictions: © Oberrheinisches Tabakmuseum Mahlberg