Winston tastes good like a cigarette should

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"Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" is an advertising slogan that appeared in newspaper, magazine, radio, and television advertisements for Winston cigarettes, manufactured by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Reynolds used the slogan from Winston's introduction in 1954 until 1972. It is one of the best-known American tobacco advertising campaigns. In 1999, Advertising Age included the "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" jingle in its list of the 10 best radio and television jingles in the United States during the 20th century.

The advertising agency William Esty Co. deliberately, and ungrammatically, used "like" rather than "as" in the slogan and jingle. The Esty executives Wendell Adams and Arline Lunny were in charge of the overall campaign. Lunny produced and directed most of the campaign's content during its early years. Although Adams was a classically trained musician, Margaret Johnson (a singer, pianist, and model) ghost wrote the jingle; Johnson and her husband, Travis Johnson, recorded it with their group, the Song Spinners.[1]

The slogan was included in the 1988 edition of Simpson's Contemporary Quotations.[2]

In a departure for the time, the advertising campaign targeted distinct niche groups within the broader market of smokers, such as American Jews[3] and African Americans.[4][original research?]


Bowman Gray Jr., who later became the president of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, was in charge of marketing Winstons, which were a new addition to the R.J. Reynolds line in 1954. Gray listened to advertising employees from the William Esty Co., and the slogan "Winston tastes good like a cigarette ought to" was considered, then replaced by the more succinct "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should."[5]

The first print ad appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in September 1954,[6] with an ad in Life following the next month.[7] In 1955, Winston would take over as the sponsor of Walter Cronkite's news show, as well as Garry Moore's variety show; it was at this time that the first television advertisements aired.[citation needed]

Radio and television[edit]

A still photo of a Winston advertisement featuring Fred (right) and Wilma Flintstone (left). This particular still is from the end-of-show sponsor bumper that aired at the end of every episode while Winston was the show's primary sponsor, until the second season.

In the radio and television advertisements, the slogan is presented in a singsong fashion with a noticeable two-beat clap near the end, so the jingle would sound like Win-ston tastes good like a (clap clap) cigarette should. The "clap" noise was sometimes substituted for actors in the commercials knocking twice against a truck carrying Winston cigarettes, or an actor flicking his lighter twice to the same conceit.[citation needed]

Winston cigarettes were sponsors of popular television series. In The Beverly Hillbillies,[8] the stars Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, and Nancy Kulp extolled the virtues of Winstons while smoking them and reciting the jingle. The Flintstones[9] was criticized for advertising cigarettes on an animated series watched by many children, and Winston pulled their involvement with it after the Pebbles Flintstone character was born in 1963.[10]

Grammar controversy[edit]

During the campaign's long run in the media, many criticized the slogan as grammatically incorrect, asserting that it should say, "Winston tastes good as a cigarette should." Ogden Nash, in The New Yorker, published a poem that ran "Like goes Madison Avenue, like so goes the nation."[11] Walter Cronkite, then hosting The Morning Show, refused to say the line as written, and an announcer was used instead.[12]

Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point, says that this "ungrammatical and somehow provocative use of 'like' instead of 'as' created a minor sensation" in 1954 and implies that the phrase itself was responsible for vaulting the brand to second place in the U.S. market.[13] Winston overtook Pall Mall cigarettes as the #1 cigarette in the United States in 1966, while the advertising campaign continued to make an impression on the mass media.[citation needed]

In the fall of 1961, a small furor enveloped the literary and journalistic communities in the United States when Merriam-Webster published its Third New International Dictionary. In the dictionary, the editors refused to condemn the use of "like" as a conjunction, and cited "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" as an example of popular colloquial use. After publication of Webster's Third, The New York Times called the edition "bolshevik," and the Chicago Daily News wrote that the transgression signified "a general decay in values."[14]

When the players in The Beverly Hillbillies spoke the line, they stretched the grammatical boundaries further:

Jed: Winston tastes good...
Granny: Like a cigarette had ought-a!

In 1970 and 1971, Winston sought to revamp its image and chose to respond to many grammarians' qualms with the slogan, "What do you want, good grammar or good taste?" Mad magazine published a parody of this on the back cover of its January 1971 issue; set in a cemetery, it featured four tombstones with epitaphs written in the past tense ("Winston tasted good like a cigarette should've" "You mean 'as a cigarette should've'" "What did you want, good grammar or good taste?" "I wanted to live a lot longer than this!"). With the new slogan in wide use, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" was retired permanently in 1972.

In 1981, actor James Garner claimed responsibility for the wording of the slogan during an interview with Playboy magazine. Garner, who narrated the original commercial, stated that his first action ever to be captured on film was to misread the line that had been provided to him.[15] However the advertisements appeared in print before their debut on television, which casts doubt on Garner's claim.


The jingle was often parodied. The first line was typically, Winston tastes bad like the one I just had.[16] The second line was commonly some variation on No filter, no flavor, it tastes like toilet paper,[17] or, No filter, no taste, just a fifty-cent waste.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ad Age Advertising Century: Top 10 Jingles". Advertising Age. March 29, 1999. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Simpson, James B. (1988). Simpson's Contemporary Quotations. Houghton Mifflin. Quotation No. 2482. Archived from the original on 2007-10-31. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  3. ^ R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (April 1963). Landman, Anne (ed.). "Something Wonderful Happens. Winston Tastes Good-Like A Cigarette Should! Ad Notebook". Tobacco Documents Online. Archived from the original on November 25, 2005. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  4. ^ R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (n.d.). "Starting Point for Pleasure ..." Retrieved October 29, 2018. This color advertisement depicts a black man and woman with Winston cigarettes.
  5. ^ "Winston beginnings". JournalNow. Archived from the original on 2006-09-02. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  6. ^ Cross, Mary (2002). A Century of American Icons: 100 Products and Slogans from the 20th-Century Consumer Culture. Greenwood Press. pp. 128–130. ISBN 978-0313314810. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  7. ^ Examples of the "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" marketing campaign, various magazines, 1955-1969.
  8. ^ "Expert says tobacco pitched ads to young smokers". CNN Interactive. Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  9. ^ "Winston Tastes Good, Like a Cigarette Should (original spot featuring the Flintstones)". VideoSift. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  10. ^ Ingram, Billy. "Cigarette Advertising on TV". TVparty!. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  11. ^ Parrish 2002, pp. 155–156.
  12. ^ Utley 2000, p. 4.
  13. ^ Gladwell 2002, p. 25.
  14. ^ Finegan & Rickford 2004, p. Foreword.
  15. ^ "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should". Historical Winston Ads. James A. Shaw. Archived from the original on March 14, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  16. ^ Franzen, Jonathan (May 13, 1996). "Sifting the Ashes: Confessions of a conscientious objector in the cigarette wars". The New Yorker. p. 40.
  17. ^ "Opinion: Those retro cigarette jingles and ads leave kids appalled". The Beaver County Times. Aug 4, 2013. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  18. ^ Jemie, Onwuchekwa (2003). Yo Mama!: New Raps, Toasts, Dozens, Jokes, and Children's Rhymes from Urban Black America. Temple University Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-59213-029-0.


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