Creating Elephant & Castle
When Ken ran down a list of blends no longer being made, a light
bulb clicked on over our heads. Well we thought
aren't makin'em why don't we?
Good idea. The tough part was deciding which to include. We went
wild and had something like 22 Virginias and 31 English after
the first round. A bit unmanageable.
The line finally ended up balanced with 3 Virginia and 3 English.
It had taken months of transatlantic (pre e-mail) communication,
several visits and a fair amount of debate, but we were now ready
to blend - almost!
Blue Mosque fine cut Turkish cigarette tobacco was added bringing
the line to seven.
We feared the manufacturing would be even more time consuming,
but we were wrong. McConnell had produced virtually every London
tobacco over the years, and where the blends were completely
new, such as The Stout and Deerstalker, Ken hit the nail on the
head the first or second time. Believe me, it's great working
with the best!
While Ken busied himself with the production aspects of the new
line - while still producing all the Rattray's, McConnells and
a few dozen more brands - the importers searched for a name.
Out came a map of the London Underground, a source of inspiration
some years earlier. (Marble Arch is a stop on the Central Line).
So many names, but there
at the juncture of the Bakerloo
and Northern Lines
just what we wanted: Elephant &
In later years, when asked why Elephant & Castle, we'd often
23rd Street & Ely Avenue didn't sound as nice."
This is a stop on the New York City Subway, but we're from NYC
so waddya expect?
Next we needed an artist to design and layout the label, and
as is often the case, we found our man by chance. We'd wanted
to put our company's name on the door in gold leaf - classy.
One name kept popping up every time we inquired, so we made an
appointment to meet this fellow and upon entering the studio,
we realized this was our guy! We never got the door lettered,
but we were plenty pleased with what we did get.
The E&C name gave us the idea for the label, and we'd already
decided to use colors, like Dobies with their 4 Square line,
as opposed to different images for each mixture.
We saw the first draft of the label and decided it was perfect.
The artist wanted to "clean it up" with a "finished"
version but we yelled, "No
you might ruin it!"
So that's how it stayed, that is until we realized we had a great
London made tobacco, and it didn't say London anywhere
on the label! He added it at the bottom edge of the elephant's
blanket, and also threw in some doodles and scribbles. It's a
bit like a Hershfeld drawing, and some are hard to see on the
printed label. Artists?!?
on to Part
Selling Elephant & Castle