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How Did Swisher Sweets Become Associated With Cannabis?

Every gas station, convenience store, and smoke shop has them—those colorful packages of sugary cigars, proudly claiming to be “2 for 99 cents”, though, much like a can of Arizona Iced Tea, the cost will likely vary. 

Swisher Sweets are by far one of the most identifiable brands of cigarillo of all time, but everyone knows they aren’t bought for the tobacco inside. If you happen to be standing in line behind someone buying the classic two-pack of Swishers, you know exactly what they’re for.

Most commonly, Swishers are split open, the tobacco inside discarded and refilled with cannabis before getting resealed, creating a slow-burning blunt. There’s even scientific research into the prevalence of cigarillo sales within young demographics that confirm “they’re pretty much made for blunts.” 

Swishers will be forever associated with weed; there’s no doubt about it. But how did that association begin? Swisher doesn’t market to cannabis users. In fact, the company seems to intentionally shy away from overtly mentioning the association. So how did it all begin?

History Of Swisher Sweets 

Swisher Sweets is a true classic in every sense of the word. The brand has been name-dropped in more rap songs and hip-hop tracks than can be counted, Swisher is a household name, and the company’s been around for over 150 years

It all started in 1861 Newark Ohio, when David Swisher received a small cigar business as part of a debt settlement. After exponentially growing the business, David would eventually pass the business down to his sons, who would turn the cigar world on its head through their mass production techniques and innovative use of cellophane packaging. 

The first iconic Swisher Sweet was introduced in 1958, and it’s been selling like hotcakes ever since. In addition to regular Swishers, today the company makes dozens of different flavors including tropical, blueberry, sweet crème, wine, mango, and many others. 

History Of The Blunt

It’s unclear who the first person to ever empty out a cigarillo and roll up weed with leaf was, though it likely was a Caribbean immigrant living in New York City. It’s in New York in the ‘80s, during a time when a large influx of Dominican, Jamaican, and Puerto Ricans immigrants moved into the city, where we first start to see the practice of blunt rolling take place. 

Around the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the New York hip-hop community began to popularize the blunt and spread the concept to the rest of the country. Songs like the 1988 track Raw by Brooklyn-based rapper Big Daddy Kane or Redman’s instructional How To Roll A Blunt glamorized blunt smoking and introduced cannabis enthusiasts around the globe to the relaxing pastime of sharing a blunt with your friends. 

How Swisher Sweets Became Associated With Cannabis 

Like how we don’t know exactly who the first person to smoke a blunt was, the origins of Swisher’s cannabis association are a little hazy and hard to pinpoint down to an exact moment, but here’s a theory:

A large part of what’s made Swisher a successful company for over a century is the brand’s mass production capabilities. Swisher’s factories pump out hundreds of thousands of cigarillos a day, which are sold for relatively cheap when compared to some other cigar brands. The ubiquity of Swisher Sweets in New York City bodegas, coupled with the fact that the affordability would be attractive to working-class immigrant communities very likely contributed to the popularity among cannabis users that we see today.

Once a tradition begins, it becomes part of the culture. Regardless of how it came to be, Swisher Sweets are definitely a staple of cannabis culture.