RJR: ‘Happy Holidays and Happy Smoking!’

“Recently, an investigation into the history of the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ as a seasonal greeting in the United States by self-described history nerd Jeremy Aldrich turned up its usage as early as 1863, in the Philadelphia Inquirer. By the middle of the 20th century, the phrase was well established in popular usage, as shown in a study of ads run by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in Carolina Magazine from 1935 to 1942 to encourage giving the gift of tobacco.

“A 1937 ad proclaimed: ‘A gift of Camels says, “Happy Holidays and Happy Smoking!” ‘ Other ads from the 1930s and early 1940s stuck to ‘Season’s Greetings,’ but all featured jolly, grinning Santa Clauses, reindeer, Christmas trees and other recognizable Christmas symbols….”

— From “The War of Words behind ‘Happy Holidays’” by at history.com (Dec. 14)


Naming Winston-Salem: A revisionist history

“Winston-Salem was a small city compared to Philadelphia…. We found out that Winston-Salem was where R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was located, which was why we saw all those endless huge fields of tobacco when we were coming down on the train….

“The city itself — and our college, too — was named after Winston and Salem cigarettes, I believe….”

— From “Earl the Pearl: My Story” by Earl Monroe (2013)

Monroe became a sensation on the Winston-Salem State basketball team, averaging 41 points per game his senior year, and later was named to four NBA All-Star teams. 


Could Richmond have become ‘Camel City’?

“The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., formerly one of the largest subsidiaries of the American Tobacco Co., contemplates entering the cigarette manufacturing field.

“The main plug and smoking tobacco factories of the company are located at Winston-Salem, N.C., but it has not definitely decided as yet whether or not to locate the cigarette manufacturing end of its business in that city. The uncertainty is due to the fact that a bill framed to prevent cigarette manufacture is before the North Carolina state legislature.

“The company has two large warehouses in Richmond, and in the event of unfavorable legislation in North Carolina, the cigarette manufacturing for the company will be undertaken in Virginia.”

– From “If Legislation is Unfavorable in North Carolina, Plant May Be Located in Virginia” in the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 22, 1913)

I haven’t found details on the proposed ban on cigarette manufacturing, but it must not have turned out to be a problem — just a few months later Reynolds’ Winston-Salem plant would be turning out 425 million Camels per year.