Lucky Strike

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Lucky Strike
Luckystrike logo13 red.png
Lucky Strike logo launched in 2013.
Product type Cigarette
Produced by British American Tobacco
Japan Tobacco
R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (in the U.S.)
Introduced 1871; 146 years ago (1871)

Lucky Strike is an American brand of cigarettes owned by the British American Tobacco groups. Often referred to as "Luckies", Lucky Strike was the top-selling cigarette brand in the United States during the 1930s.[1]


Lucky Strike brand was introduced in 1871 by the company R.A. Patterson in the USA as chewing tobacco. The founder of Luckies was inspired by the era's rush for gold searching. Only some of the gold diggers (about four out of 1000) were fortunate enough to find gold and this was often referred to as a lucky strike. By choosing this expression as the product's name, it meant consumers who were choosing the brand were lucky, as they were choosing a top-quality blend. Lucky Strike was a brand of chewing tobacco, and by the early 1900s, it had evolved into a cigarette.

A well circulated myth is that the name "Lucky Strike" refers to the fact that some cigarette packs contained marijuana, thus getting a "lucky strike" in receiving one of these. This, according to Snopes however, is considered simply an urban legend, and not true.[2]


Advertising photo for Lucky Strike by Nickolas Muray, 1936

The brand was first introduced by R.A. Patterson of Richmond, Virginia, in 1871 as cut-plug chewing tobacco and later a cigarette. In 1905, the company was acquired by the American Tobacco Company (ATC).

The "It's Toasted" ad as explained, from 1917

In 1917, the brand started using the slogan, "It's Toasted", to inform consumers about the manufacturing method in which the tobacco is toasted rather than sun-dried, a process touted as making the cigarettes taste delicious.

In the late 1920s, the brand was sold as a route to thinness for women, one typical ad said, "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet." Sales of Lucky Strikes increased by more than 300% during the first year of the advertising campaign. Sales went from 14 billion cigarettes in 1925 to 40 billion sold in 1930, making Lucky Strike the leading brand nationwide.[3]

Lucky Strike's association with radio music programs began during the 1920s on NBC. By 1928, the bandleader and vaudeville producer B. A. Rolfe was performing on radio and recording as "B.A. Rolfe and his Lucky Strike Orchestra" for Edison Records. In 1935, ATC began to sponsor Your Hit Parade, featuring North Carolina tobacco auctioneer Lee Aubrey "Speed" Riggs (later, another tobacco auctioneer from Lexington, Kentucky, F.E. Boone, was added). The weekly radio show's countdown catapulted the brand's success, remaining popular for 25 years. The shows capitalized on the tobacco auction theme and each ended with the signature phrase "Sold, American".[4]

The company's advertising campaigns generally featured a theme that stressed the quality of the tobacco purchased at auction for use in making Lucky Strike cigarettes and claimed that the higher quality tobacco resulted in a cigarette with better flavor. American engaged in a series of advertisements using Hollywood actors as endorsers of Lucky Strike, including testimonials from Douglas Fairbanks, concerning the cigarette's flavor, often described as delicious due to the tobacco being toasted.[4]

Lucky Strike was also a sponsor of comedian Jack Benny's radio and TV show, The Jack Benny Program, which was also introduced as The Lucky Strike Program.

Lucky Strike factories in Durham, NC

The brand's signature dark-green pack was changed to white in 1942. In a famous advertising campaign that used the slogan "Lucky Strike Green has gone to war", the company claimed the change was made because the copper used in the green color was needed for World War II.[5] American Tobacco actually used chromium to produce the green ink, and copper to produce the gold-colored trim. A limited supply of each was available, and substitute materials made the package look drab.[6]

The white package actually was introduced to modernize the label and to increase the appeal of the package among female smokers; market studies showed that the green package was not found attractive to women, who had become important consumers of tobacco products. The war effort became a convenient way to make the product more marketable while appearing patriotic at the same time.[6]

Famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy was challenged by company president George Washington Hill to improve the existing green and red package, with a $50,000 bet at stake. Loewy changed the background from green to white, making it more attractive to women, as well as cutting printing costs by eliminating the need for green dye. He also placed the Lucky Strike target logo on both sides of the package, a move that increased both visibility and sales. Hill paid off the bet.[7]

British Lucky Strike pack with a cigarette alongside a government health warning

The message "L.S./M.F.T." ("Lucky Strike means fine tobacco") was introduced on the package in 1945.

Lucky Strike was one of the brands included in the C-rations provided to US combat troops during the Second World War. Each C ration of the time included, among other items, nine cigarettes of varying brands because at the time, top military brass thought that tobacco was essential to the morale of soldiers fighting on the front lines. The other cigarette brands included in the C-rations were Camel, Chelsea, Chesterfield, Craven "A"-Brand, Old Gold, Philip Morris, Player's, Raleigh, and Wings. The practice of including cigarettes in field rations continued during the Korean and Vietnam wars, ending around 1975 or 1976 with the growing knowledge that smoking caused various kinds of health problems.[8]

Post World War II[edit]

Jenson Button driving for BAR at Indianapolis in the 2005 US Grand Prix. In response to restrictions on tobacco advertising in F1 the livery does not explicitly mention Lucky Strike

As a result of British American Tobacco (BAT) buying out American Tobacco Company in 1976, Lucky Strike came under control of BAT. The company acquired Formula 1's Tyrrell Racing team in 1997 and rebranded it as British American Racing the following year, sponsoring the team with its Lucky Strike and stablemate 555 brands. The team was bought outright by partners Honda by 2006, though Lucky Strike continued to sponsor the team until the end of that year.

In 1978 and 1994, export rights and U.S. rights were purchased by Brown & Williamson. In the 1960s, filtered styles were launched in addition to a mentholated version called "Lucky Strike Green". This time "Green" was referring to menthol and not to the overall package color. In late 2006, both the Full Flavored and Light filtered varieties of Lucky Strike cigarettes were discontinued in North America. However, Lucky Strike continued to have marketing and distribution support in territories controlled by BAT as a global drive brand. In addition, R. J. Reynolds continues to market the original, nonfilter Lucky Strikes in the United States. Lucky Strike currently has a small base of smokers.[9][10]

In 2007, a new packaging of Lucky Strikes was released, with a two-way opening which split seven cigarettes from the rest. In the same year, the company used the world's smallest man, He Pingping, in their ad campaigns.

In 2009, Lucky Strike Silver (the brand marketed as lighter) changed their UK packs from the quintessential red design to blue, albeit with a red teaser outer covering the packet.

In popular culture[edit]

The cigarette brand is referenced in many modern forms of media.

In art[edit]

  • American Colonial-Cubist artist Stuart Davis represented the brand in his 1921 painting, Lucky Strike. [11]

In music[edit]

  • In The Ataris' song "All You Can Ever Learn is What You Already Know", an empty box of Lucky Strikes is referred to in the second verse.[15]
  • In Rodney Atkins' song "These Are My People", he mentions "Chokin' on the smoke from a Lucky Strike somebody lifted off his old man."[16]
  • In Jason Aldean's song "Back In This Cigarette", he mentions an ash tray being full of "Lucky Strikes" while inside of a hotel room.[17]
  • In ZZ Top's song "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide", they mention the passengers in their car are "smokin' Lucky Strikes" as they cruise the highway.[18]
  • In Dropkick Murphys's song "Sunday Hardcore Matinee", there is a line mentioning a "Pack of Luckies" among the possessions of those en route to the show.[19]
  • In Tom Waits's song "Kentucky Avenue", he mentions having "half a pack of Lucky Strikes" in the first verse.[20]
  • In Pistol Annies song "Takin' Pills", one of the women in the song is portrayed as smoking Lucky Strikes in the first verse with the line: "Although she ain’t gonna smile till she lights up her Lucky. No filter on her mouth or her cigarettes".[21]
  • In John Hiatt's song Trudy and Dave he sings "Well David put a match to a Lucky Strike And the smoke curled up 'round his head how he liked...". [22]

In television[edit]

  • In the acclaimed AMC television series Mad Men, Lucky Strike is a major client for the fictional advertising agency Sterling Cooper. A fictitious plot is also presented for the birth of the legendary slogan "It's Toasted".[23] The main character, Don Draper, is often seen smoking Lucky Strikes.

In other uses[edit]

  • Former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (RNorth Carolina) handed out Lucky Strike cigarettes, which were his personal brand of choice, in his Senate office to meeting attendants until it became "utterly unfashionable".[24]

Cigarette camp[edit]

"Lucky Strike" was the name of one of a number of temporary U.S. Army "tent cities" known as Cigarette Camps situated around the French port of Le Havre following its capture in the wake of the Allied D-Day invasion in mid-1944.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brandt, Allan (January 6, 2009). The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America. Avalon Publishing Group. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7867-2190-0. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Marijuana in Lucky Strike". Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  3. ^ Columbia University National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (2006). Women Under the Influence. JHU Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8018-8227-2. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Lum, K. L.; Polansky, J.R.; Jackler, R.K.; Glantz, S.A. (28 September 2008). "Signed, sealed and delivered: 'Big tobacco' in Hollywood, 1927-1951". Tobacco Control. 17 (5): 313–323. doi:10.1136/tc.2008.025445. PMC 2602591Freely accessible. PMID 18818225. 
  5. ^ Heide, Robert; Gilman, John. Home Front America: Popular Culture of the World War II Era. pp. 128–129. ISBN 0-8118-0927-7. OCLC 31207708. 
  6. ^ a b Mikkelson, Barbara (2015). "Lucky Strike Logo Color Change". Retrieved August 28, 2015. [not in citation given]
  7. ^ "Raymond Loewy: Biography". 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Army Rations - C-rations". March 30, 1943. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Company - Brands - Brand Portfolio". R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. 2008. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Our brands". British American Tobacco. 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  11. ^ Glennon, Jen (2017) Artist David Stuart Artworks The Art Story Foundation
  12. ^ Fitzgerald, Ella (1956) Give it Back to the Indians Lyrics From Metro Lyrics.
  13. ^ "Keeping The Faith". 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  14. ^ MacBain, Hamish (January 13, 2012). "NME Reviews - Howler - 'America Give Up'". NME. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Ataris - All You Can Ever Learn is What You Already Know Lyrics". Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  16. ^ "These Are My People Lyrics - Rodney Atkins. Album: If You're Going Through Hell". Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Back In This Cigarette Lyrics - Jason Aldean. Album: Jason Aldean - Relentless". Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  18. ^ "ZZ Top - I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide Lyrics". SongMeanings. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Dropkick Murphys - Sunday Hardcore Matinee Lyrics". MetroLyrics. May 29, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Tom Waits - Kentucky Avenue Lyrics". MetroLyrics. 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Takin' Pills Lyrics". Pistol Annies. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  22. ^ Hiatt, John Trudy and Dave Lyrics From LetitsSing Lyrics
  23. ^ Pow, Helen (September 23, 2013). "Mad Men sparks cigarette sales boom for Lucky Strike with 10 BILLION more packs sold last year compared to when series first aired". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  24. ^ Troxler, Howard (August 23, 2001). "Jesse Helms' legacy is today's politicking". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Historic American Engineering Record: SS Maritime Victory (Private Frederick C. Murphy)" (PDF). United States Maritime Administration. 2006. p. 5. Retrieved August 28, 2015. The ship made crossings in 1946 carrying troops between the European Theater of Operations, especially Le Havre, France, and New York City, New York. From Le Havre, the ship often left from the area known as the 'Cigarette Camps'. 

External links[edit]