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Launched in the United States in 1933 by the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, Kool was the first menthol brand to gain nationwide distribution. Catering first to a small niche market, KOOL quickly became the most popular menthol cigarette in America (a position held until the 2000s), as well as one of the world’s most famous brands. The first Kool cigarette was non-filtered, menthol-”tipped”, and regular-sized (70 mm); a king-sized (85 mm) non-filter was introduced in 1953, which was switched to a filter-tipped version in 1956. The king-sized non-filter was reintroduced in 1962, while a filtered long-sized (100 mm) was brought out in 1967.

The Kool brand (like most other brands) underwent an expansion during the 1970s: variations introduced during this decade included Kool Milds (in kings and 100s) in 1972, Kool Super Lights in 1977 (which were replaced by Kool Ultra in 1981), and the short-lived Kool International in 1979. 1981 also saw the introduction of Kool Lights.

The company making Kool, Brown and Williamson, was taken over by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco in 2004; the company created from this merger was named Reynolds American, which still make Kool in the United States today. Kool is made and/or sold in various countries around the world, including Argentina, Belgium, Columbia, France, Jamaica, and Japan; these presumably all use American-blend tobacco.

Kool was also made in Canada (with an American blend); first by the Tuckett Tobacco Company (a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco Canada), and later by Imperial Tobacco Canada when they closed the Tuckett Tobacco plant in 1966. The original version was withdrawn from the market in 1994 along with Imperial’s other American-blend cigarettes. Kool was relaunced in 2003, this time using a Virginia blend; sold in Full Flavour and Frost [Lights], it was discontinued in 2011.

Cigarette Packs

Standard Packs

Kool’s packaging remained fairly consistent for some sixty years, consisting of a usually white pack with ”Kool” written with interlocked o’s in a green box. Their advertising trade mark, Willie the Penguin, appeared in the 1940s on the back of the Kool pack in a series of cartoons (which were uploaded from Erich Swoboda’s collection).

The first overhaul to the design came in the 1990s, when a picture of a waterfall was added to the pack. The second (and current) redesign happened in the late 1990s or early 2000s; Kool packages today are green (Milds are blue), with the interlocking o’s printed vertically along the right-hand side of the pack.

Collectors’ Packs

Vintage Advertising Links

The Kool brand’s advertising mascot in its first two decades was Willie the Penguin, who used to appear on the back of the pack along with a rhyming slogan extolling the virtues of their mentholated taste.

Willie was animated in a series of black-and-white television advertisements for Kool in the 1950s; these were replaced in the 1960s with live-action spots, most of which centered around the jingle ”Come up to the Kool taste.” Another jingle which gained prominence in the years before televised cigarette ads were banned in 1971 was ”Lady be Kool.”



See Also