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Brand Spud

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Mr. Lloyd "Spud" Hughes of Mingo Junction, Ohio, gets the credit for introducing Americans to menthol cool smoking. Hughes wasn't long out of high school and working as a cashier in a restaurant run by his father, when he came up with the idea of treating tobacco with menthol. He patented his process, and in 1925 helped form the Spud Cigarette Corporation, Wheeling, West Virginia. Walter B. Hilton, a prominent Wheeling real estate and insurance man was president, and Lloyd was secretary/treasurer. Spud Cigarettes were made for this small company in Wheeling at Factoy 12, WV by the Bloch brothers, manufacturers of popular Mail Pouch Tobacco. Spud Hughes sold his premium priced cigarettes (20 for 20 cents) from his car, door-to-door, in the Ohio Valley. Mr. Woodford Fitch Axton was a Kentucky colonel and part owner and president of The Axton-Fisher Tobacco Company of Louisville, Kentucky. The Axton-Fisher Tobacco Co. made Clown Cigarettes, a modestly successful regional brand first sold in 1920. Axton saw the potential of Spud Hughes' invention, and in May 1926 offered him $90,000 for the name and patent. Hughes accepted, and by 1932 Axton-Fisher had promoted Spud Cigarettes into the fifth best selling brand in the United States. Menthol is manufactured by freezing cornmint oil, which is derived from the aromatic Japanese Mint plant, and then using centrifugal force to separate out the resulting crystals. US cigarette makers import menthol crystals from Brazil, Paraguay, India, and China. Spud Hughes' patent, which was granted during September 1925, states that cigarette tobacco is treated by spraying it with a solution of menthol, alcohol, and the oil of cassia.