The first widely available premiums on the U.S. scene were tin tobacco tags. Like Susini’s cigarette wrappers in 1860’s Cuba, tin tags began as an attempt to thwart counterfeiting and grew into a popular collectible.
In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War demand for Southern tobacco skyrocketed, and manufacturers large and small sprung up like weeds, all hoping to cash in. At that time both chewing and smoking tobacco was shipped in wooden crates called caddies, branded or labeled with the maker’s name. Once the crates were opened, every company’s tobacco looked pretty much alike. History has repeatedly demonstrated when a new product is in profitable high demand, retailers proliferate. The less scrupulous among them, as happened in the world of tobacco, took advantage of consumer inexperience by refilling empty caddies with inferior goods, thus cheating both the manufacturer and consumer.