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Tobacco vs. Underwear
by Lynn Hanson
|During the closing years of the civil war, northern troops stationed in the south who smoked pipe tobacco grew fond of a mild variety of American tobacco called bright. This local tobacco was processed by John Ruffin Green at Durhams Station, North Carolina. Green shredded his tobacco for pipe smoking and sold it in small muslin, cloth bags with a picture of a Bull on the side of it.
At the end of the war the soldiers went home and J. Green began receiving letters from them requesting more of his tobacco. The market grew, and Bull Durham tobacco, with an aggressive advertising campaign, quickly became a recognized national product. It was reputed to be the largest tobacco processing manufacture in the world, employing over a thousand people in a single building.
At the same time, farther west, in another small Carolina town called Winston were two other tobacco manufactures. They produced chewing tobacco. Chewing tobacco was popular and sold in plugs.
A plug is a rectangular block of pressed tobacco, a few inches square and about one-quarter of an inch thick. It was a size such that the plug could be carried in a pocket, and pieces could be bitten off to chew.
|Pleasant Henderson was selling almost a million pounds of plug tobacco a year. The plugs had names such as Missing Link, Mans Pride, and Bugle Boy. Henderson became rich on tobacco sales, then sold his company; lock, stock, and barrel, to the other Winston tobacco company owned by J.R. Reynolds. The fact that Bull Durham had cornered the market for smoking tobacco may have influenced his decision.
Pleasant Henderson now invested his fortune in a new business. His new company manufactured mens underwear; long johns, shorts, and later knit socks. Pleasant Hendersons full name is found in his advertisement slogan, Gentleman Prefer Hanes. Pleasant Henderson Hanes turned his tobacco fortune into an underwear fortune.
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