When it comes to cigarettes, symbols of American culture pop up everywhere, sometimes in the strangest of ways. My grandfather’s two Norwegian cigarette packs – a Tiedemanns Teddy and a South State Specially Toasted – tell intriguing tales of the ties binding Norway and America.
Short of the Vikings’ discovery of the New World several centuries before Columbus, not much about Scandinavia appears in your standard US History textbook. You might find some all-too-brief praise for the Danish resistance in WWII, which protected nearly all Danish Jews from the Nazi terror. (Read further: The US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Rescue in Denmark.”)
Swedish culture made it to America in the form of ABBA’s timeless pop music (revived by the great Meryl Streep in the 2008 film Mamma Mia!). Norway emerges on the American scene at least once a year – sometimes stirring more than a bit of controversy – announcing the Nobel Peace Prize.
But these cigarettes tell a richer story. First up is Tiedemanns Teddy. Tiedemanns was founded way back in 1778 and thrived in the Oslo tobacco boom of the early 20th century. (See ThorNews’ Up in Smoke: Norwegian Tobacco History.)
A few years after US President Teddy Roosevelt visited Norway in 1910 to claim his Oslo Peace Prize, Tiedemanns introduced the “Teddy” brand. According to Keri Youngstrand’s post on the Teddy Roosevel Center, the American President especially enjoyed the newly-enthroned King Haakon and his family, especially Little Prince Olav.
Some of the packs bore an image (see below) of the Bull Moose himself. An image from the Norsk Folkemuseum shows the slogan “Tiedemanns Teddy Allemans Venn” (Tiedemanns Teddy Everyone’s Friend).
Roosevelt had a way of looking friendly and ready for a fight at the same time, and the classic Teddy cigarette image captures him wonderfully. Cigarette in hand – after all, it is a cigarette pack! – the President seems to be welcoming Norway to taste the cigarettes. He’s all smiles with that wide grin and fashionable monocle. But be careful that you don’t breathe a word against their flavor. If you do, his fist is already in a ball and he’s got a mean right hook!
*Check back later this week for Part Two, featuring South State Cigarettes and the Deep River Boys!