After last month’s post about Coca-Cola Cigarettes (something briefly considered by Brown & Williamson Tobacco in 1972) I got an email from Cardhouse alerting me to the fact that, in the 1930s–1940s, Coca-Cola did sell another tobacco product: cigars.
According to Tony Hyman’s Cigar History website, their are some counterfeit Coca-cola cigar bands on the market. The one shown above with the full Coca-Cola trademark appearing on the little bottle is real, but the one shown below (with only the “…a Cola” part of the trademark appearing on the bottle) is counterfeit.
The foray into tobacco products (along with their foray into Coca-Cola branded candy, chewing gum & razor blades) was short lived, as the company eventually decided to concentrate on their trademark beverage.
Interestingly, although Coca-Cola cigars appear to have been an authentic brand extension (at least for time), in a 1938 congressional hearing on trademark law, “Coca-Cola Cigars” were brought up as a hypothetical.
(Congressional testimony about Coca-Cola Cigars, after the fold…)
Mr. SCHECHTER. That is not my point of view. My point of view is this, and I think that is the point of view of the decisions, generally dealing with trade-mark protection: What you are getting is not a monopoly of the English language, and what you are getting is not a monopoly of either goods or service. Suppose that I wanted to make a cigar and call it the Coca-Cola cigar. Why should I be permitted to do that? As Mr. Justice Holmes pointed out in the Coca-Cola case before the Supreme Court, the mark designates a drink, just as much as the drink designates the mark. It has become so ingrained in the public consciousness as a certain sort of drink, which people like more or less, why should I be permitted to capitalize on that ?
Mr. DIES. You mean the Coca-Cola manufacturers?
Mr. SCHECHTER. I mean why should you ? You are contemplating putting out a Coca-Cola cigar.
Mr. DIES. And I am not the Coca-Cola Co.
Mr. SCHECHTER. You are not the Coca-Cola Co. You just like its name. It sounds good and everybody knows it, and it saves you a big expenditure in advertising, because all you have got to do is once announce that there is a Coca-Cola cigar and everybody, quite involuntarily—
The CHAIRMAN. You confuse the individual who has never drunk Coca-Cola. It denatures it, deviates it, and dilutes the value.
Mr. DIES. I can not get it in my head how, if you put out a cigar, it hurts the sale of the cigar.
The CHAIRMAN. It gets prestige from the name that has cost millions of dollars to advertise.
Mr. SCHECHTER. I have known somebody, for instance, to put out a B. V. D. cigar.
Mr. SWANK. Let me see if I can understand that. Could he advertise a Coca-Cola cigar, under the law ?
Mr. SCHECHTER. Under the law ?
Mr. SWANK. I mean under the law now, could he advertise a Coca-Cola cigar?
Mr. SCHECHTER. It all depends.
The CHAIRMAN. Could the Coca-Cola people get an injunction preventing him from using the name ” Coca-Cola Cigar ? “
Mr. SCHECHTER. If they could show — in the first place, it largely depends upon where they sue. I am going to have something to say later on about suing in the State courts.
Mr. SWANK. What I mean is — is it a violation of the trade-mark law now for Mr. Dies to sell a Coca-Cola cigar ? Of course, if it is a violation of the law one place, it is in another.
Mr. SCHECHTER. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is so.
Mr. SWANK. I mean under the Federal trade-mark law.
Mr. SCHECHTER. Even among the circuit courts there has been a great deal of disagreement on this subject. Perhaps my example was unfortunate, for this reason ; perhaps it was not extreme enough, because some people might say — some courts might hold that Coca-Cola implies one kind of refreshment and a cigar another kind of refreshment…
–excerpt from 1938 hearings on The Lanham Act (H.R. 9041)
(See also: The Marlboro Beer Memos)