Vintage ads are an excellent way to illustrate how “the way things are” are not the way things have to be or always were. In this post, I offer an ad for chewing tobacco. Now, most Americans today associate chewing tobacco (eh em) “dip” with working class, rural, white men (hello family!) and, about ten years ago, baseball players (but I digress).
In contrast to this current social construction, this vintage ad suggests that dip is the province of the aristocracy (details after the ad):
Here are the parts that got my attention:
Take the aristocracy in England. As far back as the 16th century, they considered it a mark of distinction — as well as a source of great satisfaction — to use finely-cut, finely-ground tobacco with the quaint-sounding name of “snuff.” At first, this “snuff” was, as the name suggests, inhaled through the nose.
Then, the ad claims that “snuff” is enjoyed, today, by lawyers, judges, and scientists:
Why is “smokeless tobacco” becoming so popular in America? There are a number of reasons. One of the obvious ones is that it is a way of enjoying tobacco that is anything but obvious. In other words, you can enjoy it any of the times or places where smoking is not permitted. Thus, lawyers and judges who cannot smoke in the courtroom, scientists who cannot smoke in the laboratory, and many people who like to smoke on the job, but aren’t allowed to, often become enthusiastic users.
I just love the contrast between the current social construction and the attempt at social construction made in this ad. I have no idea whether there was a time when dip wasactually enjoyed by the middle and upper classes. Anyone? Other comments welcome as well, of course.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.