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culture

Vintage Toronto Ads: How to Light Up a Policeman’s Face

Instead of arguing with the law, hand them a fine cigar.

Source: the Telegram, October 4, 1912.

The main takeaway from today’s ad: when in deep doo-doo with law enforcement officials, a little bribery never hurts. Put a smile on a hard-working police officer’s face with an unexpected gift. Strike a match instead of his face. When the enjoyment of his richly flavoured, fine cigar causes him to drop his guard, take the opportunity to run like hell.

The jolly copper depicted by Yonge Street tobacconist Alfred Wilson resembles the stereotypical British bobby of the era. Chances are, after his initial delighted reaction, this policeman might have exclaimed either “Jolly good, sir!” (if it lived up to Mr. Wilson’s claims) or “What’s this all about, then?” (if it wasn’t a satisfying smoke). He also would not have looked out of place amid the Keystone Kops, who made their film debut around this time.

A century on, with smoking advertisements frowned upon, a similar sales pitch might replace the stogie with a fine, freshly baked, artisanal-quality doughnut.

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