Smoke up, kids!
Back in the olden days of the 1960s and 1970s, before cigarette smoking was widely linked to cancer, a candy store staple was candy cigarettes, a chalky, sugary stick that wasn’t very good candy, ultimately, but kids loved them because they could pretend to be grown up. Candy maker Primrose Confectionery Company Limited was one such maker of candy cigarettes in England, and they wisely marketed them with licensed character branding. Some of the characters they offered included Gerry Anderson characters Joe 90, Thunderbirds, and Stingray, cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry and Popeye, and this Superman pack, dated 1966.
This Superman Sweet Cigarettes pack is fairly small, measuring only 2-3/4″ high by 1-1/2″ wide, and features a colorfully illustrated outer sleeve with original artwork. There’s another version of the outer sleeve in blue with stock art and later versions say “Candy Sticks” instead of “Sweet Cigarettes.”
Removing the sleeve reveals a plain white cardboard insert tray with your candy cigarettes, as well as a bonus trading card.
These were originally sold out of a counter display carton. eBay seller Paul Hart Trading Cards was kind enough to allow me to share his photos of a partial carton missing the flap here.
The trading cards are interesting… they are much smaller than standard U.S. trading cards at 1-5/16″ by 2-9/16″ and printed on a lighter weight paper that isn’t the typical card stock. Each card has a very nicely toned color painting of various Superman scenes on the front with a two or three sentence story on the back, along with a copyright date of 1967. There are 50 different cards in this set.
Here are some sample scans of the cards, scanned pretty big so you can see the art:
The art is unusual and original (not stock art); I’m not sure but it looks like there were a few different hands doing the drawings. Some of the choices are interesting, too. There’s no Clark Kent or Lois Lane or Daily Planet, yet Lori Lemaris, identified as Lori the Mermaid, makes an appearance. Brainiac seems to be the main villain, probably because he’s more visually interesting than Lex Luthor.
Overall, a really nice set of cards if you like unusual Superman items like I do. I don’t think they’re terribly rare as cards go even though they’re over 45 years old. It’s definitely worth tracking down.