Santa Smoking was a Marlboro Man
This week, Santa Claus stopped smoking in the latest version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and the news has created an Internet buzz Saturday. Santa has historically looked like he had some health problems — he’s over weight, we imagine that he may have high cholesterol as a result and he has been seen smoking a pipe on numerous occasions.
This week, Pamela McColl released a new version of the old favorite, and on the back cover it had a note from Santa himself that says his fur isn’t real and he has decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us. McColl said that she didn’t think Santa should be smoking in the 21st century.
Some people have applauded Santa’s decision to stop smoking while others are not very happy. Librarians around the country have expressed concerns of censorship.
And St. Nick himself had been deployed by tobacco companies in the not-so-distant past to shill for their products. Stanford University School of Medicine’s amazingly thorough tobacco advertising database includes quite a few pinups of Santa puffing. Yes, Santa Claus was even a Philip Morris Marlboro Man at one point.
Philip Morris was born in Whitechapel in 1835, the son of a recent immigrant from Germany who had taken the name Bernard Morris. In 1847, the family opened a shop in London. The first cigarettes that Phillip Morris made were in 1854 and in 1902, Philip Morris was incorporated in New York City. The company made its first cigarettes in Richmond in 1929, using an existing factory the company purchased.
The “Crash of ’29” and 1929-1932 Bear Market had wiped out over 27% of Philip Morris stock value. By the middle of 1932 with dividend payments, you would have made money owning Philip Morris stock.
In 1933, the Philip Morris factory was racially integrated more than thirty years before the law required it. In 1938, the company offered preferred stock to ordinary buyers.
In 1954, Philip Morris began advertising Marlboro’s specifically to men. The cigarettes had new cork-tip filters housed in a flip-top box with a red roof design.
In 1970, Philip Morris made the first of several acquisitions with the purchase of Miller Brewing Company. In 1985, Philip Morris became a holding company and the parent of Philip Morris and bought General Foods. The acquisition of Kraft Foods came in 1988, after which Kraft and General Foods became Kraft General Foods.
In 2002, Miller Brewing and South African Breweries became SABMiller, the second-largest maker of beer in the world, though Philip Morris kept an interest in the merged company.
In 2003, Philip Morris Cos. changed its name to Altria Group (stock symbol: MO).
In 2007, Altria completes the spin-off of all shares of Kraft Foods (stock symbol: KFT) owned by Altria to Altria’s shareholders.
In 2008, Altria completes the spin-off of 100 percent of the shares of Philip Morris International (stock symbol: PM) to Altria’s shareholders.