Cigars are basically fermented salad

By Steve Cichon

Driving past Smoker’s Haven on the first 70 degree day… I had to stop.

I used to ride my bike to Smoker’s Haven to buy cigars when I was 14 years old.

Of course, I thought cigars were cool because David Letterman smoked them.

Today, it was the owners 20-something son Adam in the store— he really liked my bike-riding, cigar-smoking teenager story, and how my ol’man, who smoked a pipe, would head to Smoker’s Haven for “the good tobacco,” which he’d cut with the giant bag of truly questionable tobacco from Rite Aid or CVS.

My first cigar, probably around 10 years old, was some dried-out cheap El Producto or  Dutch Masters corona, wrapped in cellophane and found in a junk drawer at Grandma Cichon’s house.

El Producto cigars, from a 1986 drug store ad.

A year or two later, the first cigar I actually enjoyed was a giant hand-rolled cigar which I bought at the Rite Aid at McKinley Mall. My friend and i smoked them after seeing The Hunt For Red October, and man, did we feel cool.

It’s to the point where the thought of an early spring cigar brings far more pleasure than the actual smoking of one, but I really love buying them anyway, even if just for the experience.


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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.