The earliest report I can find of people in the Persian Gulf smoking ants is the one below, from 1994. But news stories have continued to report this practice. This one from 2008 explains that it's specifically the red samsun ant that's smoked, and explains, "Smoking the red ant gives a similar sensation to smoking marijuana and sniffing glue because of the high concentration of formic acid found in the ants."
In the early 1990s, Regal cigarettes in the UK launched an advertising campaign that featured an everyman named Reg who offered his dad-humor insights on various subjects.
The first ad read, "Reg on Smoking: I smoke 'em because my name's on 'em." As he held his fingers over the 'al' in Regal.
Other insights followed.
Reg on train-spotting: "There's one."
Reg on party politics: "If you drop ash on the carpet you won't get invited again."
But the campaign was eventually banned because medical researchers discovered that the stupid humor of the ads appealed mostly to young adolescents, whereas adults 33-55 years old, who were supposedly the target group for the campaign, didn't identify much with Reg.
Below are all the other examples of Reg ads that I could find online.
Reg on the Stock Exchange: I'd never swap my cubes for gravy granules
Reg on Race Relations: My Uncle Nobby used to own a bookies
Self-lighting cigarettes seem to be an idea that inventors keep dreaming up, not realizing that the idea has already been tried. The basic problem with them is identified in this thread on the Guardian. Either the head of the cigarette rips off as you try to light it, or it doesn't light and you're left with a smashed-up cigarette.
Also, although I'm not a smoker, it seems like a problem that doesn't need a solution. I get the sense that smokers like the ritual of lighting their ciggies.
Muncie Evening Post - May 21, 1929
Des Moines Register - June 28, 1951
Deca self-lighting cigarettes were sold in the UK in the 1960s. Image via Flickr.
"1972: South Korean inventor Whang Kyu-bong invents the self-lighting cigarette."
In the early 1970s, there was briefly such a thing as Marlboro Beer (trademark registration). Philip Morris (having just acquired Miller Brewing) figured that many people like to smoke as they drink beer, so surely a beer that shared the same brand name as their best-selling cigarette would be a success. But apparently test marketing indicated otherwise. So that was the end of Marlboro Beer.
The few bottles of it that were sold now fetch a high price (as much as $1000) as collector's items.
In 1990, R.J. Reynolds test marketed a new brand of cigarette named "Dakota." But the brand immediately generated controversy when internal company documents leaked to the Washington Post revealed that the cigarettes were narrowly targeted at a demographic described as "virile females."
What exactly is a "virile female"? It was apparently "a woman with no education beyond high school, whose favorite television roles are Roseanne and 'evening soap opera (bitches)' and whose chief aspiration is 'to get married in her early 20s' and spend her free time 'with her boyfriend doing whatever he is doing.'"
Masculine woman is an acceptable phrase, as is effeminate man; what is meant here, however, is different from a female who acts like a male. A virile woman, as I interpret the promotional message, is "a woman who associates herself with activities and images formerly considered of primarily male interest."
He further noted that there was literary precedent for the phrase:
Etymologists will support the use of virile woman because the first appearance of the adjective, in William Caxton's 1490 translation of a French romance based on Virgil's 'Aeneid,' was in the phrase "O the fortytude viryle of wymmen."
However, even though Safire had officially approved the phrase "virile female," the cigarettes themselves didn't perform well in the test marketing, so Reynolds scuttled the brand.
In 1974, a cigarette named Zateeva Smokes began to be sold in America. It was advertised on its label as having the aroma and taste of marijuana, but it contained no marijuana and produced no high whatsoever. Therefore, it was entirely legal. The name was a play on the Latin name for marijuana, Cannabis sativa. From an article in Florida Today (Apr 20, 1974):
The pack of Zateeva says it's "An exclusive smoke that captures the heady flavor and grass-like aroma of Cannabis Sativa. All natural ingredients, non-psychoactive, no tobacco or nicotine."
The pack says Zateeva's sole distributor is the House of Imagery Inc. in Montclair, N.J., but the phone company has no listing for that firm. Officials say no cigaret manufacturing firm exists in that town.
Unlike Bravo Smokes (the lettuce cigarette) that I posted about yesterday, Zateeva Smokes were not intended as a harmless substitute to help smokers quit. Instead, their primary purpose seems to have been to prank cops. They allowed pot enthusiasts to stand on street corners, smoking away, and if challenged by a cop, they would inform the officer that they weren't doing anything illegal. They were simply smoking a Zateeva.
So they were essentially a gimmick, and it doesn't seem like they ever gained much popularity. The sole reference to these Zateeva Smokes that I've been able to find is the 1974 Florida Today article. And I'm not sure if it's significant that the article itself ran on April 20 (4-20). Probably just a coincidence.
Every so often the media needs to sound the alarm about a new drug that's corrupting the youth of the nation. In the summer of 1967, that drug was the periwinkle plant. The entire scare was based on one group of teenagers in Florida who experimented with the plant, but still it generated plenty of headlines.
Can smoking periwinkle actually get you high? Probably. Over at erowid.org there are some reports of people experimenting with it. Though despite the scare of 1967, it never caught on as a popular drug.
Dr. George Dame, a health officer in Manatee County, warned that periwinkle could have all kinds of unpleasant side effects (such as "withering of muscle tissue") because periwinkle is the source of some drugs (vinblastine and vincristine) used in chemotherapy. However, an expert on those drugs disagreed with him. From Newsweek (June 26, 1967):
A chemist at Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis, where the drugs vincristine and vinblastine were developed, said last week that the perils may not be as great as Dame suspects. Both vincristine and vinblastine, he pointed out, are highly unstable and probably do not get into the smoke of burning periwinkle leaves in an active form. Nonetheless, the chemist was quick to put down the periwinkle cult. "Periwinkle," he said, "like most inedible plants, is toxic. You might get pretty sick to your stomach."
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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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