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 writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.