Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dr. Grabow Pre-Smoked Pipes

Another bizarre idea from the 1950s. I don't quite know what to say. But take a look at that little Pipe-Smoking Machine they have going there. What does the guy standing there in the lab coat do all day? How many times do the pipes smoke themselves before they're sent out to the store?

And does one really need to break in a pipe? It's not shoes we're talking about here. You don't wear the pipe, gentlemen, you know.

New shapes available, too, apparently. That's one in the big picture. I wonder what other shapes Dr. Grabow has on offer - pyramids, bears, Alfred E. Neuman's head?

This is from Outdoor Life magazine, 1950. There were a lot of pipe ads in men's magazines in the 50s and 60s. I mean a lot of pipe ads! This was the thing to do if you were a guy.

I suspect that Dr. Grabow just liked to try out the merchandise and then put it back in the rack. That pipe-smoking machine is just a front.

18 comments:

Jacqueline said...

Hope nobody got lung cancer from this little thingamabob.

eve cleveland said...

Hey, Girl...
I saw you at BC and came to visit. Fun stuff! I like it and I'l will pop in again. Stumblin ya.
Eve

Erica said...

My dad smoked a pipe while in the Coast Guard (1960-ish). I'll have to ask him if "pre-smoked" was a huge selling point. I always thought it was just "thing to hold your tobacco while sucking on fumes"... who knew.

Willow said...

I have never heard of a pre-smoked pipe!

Sammawow said...

Oops, I didn't mean to comment as Willow...

GoRetroGirl said...

Funniest ad ever..."ripe and ready" indeed, especially if the person breaking it in for you likes to eat garlic.

Jennifer said...

Ripe and ready and smokin' steady?

What are they talking about???

Jayne said...

Is a briar pipe made from rose briar wood?

Melanie said...

What blows me away is the prices on those pipes! Wow!

I'm not a pipe smoker, or even a smoker of any sort, but I can see the benefits of having them "pre-smoked". The fumes would have soaked into the wood already and I suppose you'd get a richer flavor or something. (Excuse me while I go gag now, just the thought of smoking does that to me.)

Just saw a huge collection of old pipes up for auction the other day. Lots of shapes and types of wood.

Judy said...

Love your site. Unfortunately I remember most of the old ads you display here. My brother has a collection of pipes, some are very old and I believe there are many pre-smoked in his collection. I mean he BOUGHT them pre-smoked; ALL of them are presmoked now (by him) LOL

The Work From Home Mother said...

I love reading the comments that you write for the old ads. I left an award for you at my site. Thanks for keeping me laughing.
Laura

looking4ancestors said...

I like how they point into the pipe stating that's is pre-smoked. Like the black sooty stuff left inside wouldn't be a clue?
Thanks for my laugh of the day!

Lux said...

O wow - how strange!

ktales said...

so did the guys in the testing lab get cancer??? I've never heard of such a thing.

Prof L. said...

Hate to muddy up a fun site with facts, but here goes. My dad was one of the 7 salesmen who sold Dr. Grabow pipes to distributors for the manufacturer. I have been to the factory on Sparta, NC. Pipes would spin through a shelacing (sp?) machine and, of course, some shelac would get in the bowl. I'm pretty sure pre-smoking helped get rid of this, as well as seasoning the wood.
An aside: My mom always joked about trained monkeys doing the pre-smoking.

Anonymous said...

There is one reason for pre-smoking tobacco pipes: To char the inside of the bowl so the taste of the wood doesn't interfere with, or "ruin", the taste of the tobacco.

The inside of a pipe bowl is raw wood. Before pre-smoking became the norm for pipes, the first few bowls of tobacco took on the flavor of the brier wood from which the pipe is carved. "Breaking in" a pipe consisted of smoking several bowls of tobacco and cleaning out the bowl between smokes. The burnt wood, or char, was not entirely scraped away. A thin coating of carbon was left lining the bowl. After several bowls, the char coating was set, and the pipe took on the flavor of the tobacco that was smoked.

The machine that pre-smokes the pipes simulates the breaking in process. At the end, the inside of the pipe is cleaned out, leaving a coating of the char lining the bowl. The result is a pipe that is pleasant to smoke from the very first bowl of tobacco. The actual "breaking in" process is not complete until the smoker who purchases the pipe has smoked a few bowls of his favorite blend and the flavor of the tobacco is imparted to the pipe. That is why pipe smokers who smoke several different blends at different times usually have a pipe for each blend of tobacco. That's why most pipe stands will accommodate between three and six pipes.

glass pipes said...

This is really a nice post.. I have come to know about the great inventor of pipes.. I am not still clear with the pre smoked pipes.. Will you explain it for me please..

bwthomas said...

Not really a bizarre idea. There were a LOT of tobacco users in the 1930's and a LOT of pipe smokers. "Breaking in" a pipe is a chore for a pipe smoker. M.Linkman & Co., the then maker of Dr. Grabow pipes came up with the idea of pre-smoking the pipes to alleviate the need for the pipe smoker to do so. A marketing ploy? Not really, it really worked. A marketing advantage...yes. Dr.Grabow was and maybe still is the largest manufacturer of smoking pipes in the world. They no longer 'pre-smoke the pipes, but the apparatus still exists at the factory in Sparta, NC.

@glasspipes.... go here: http://www.drgrabow-pipe-info.com/
and here: http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org
to learn more.