NEW YORK—Nabisco Inc., the cookie and cracker maker that once created a line of pretzel with the name Mister Salty, has taken that brutally honest style a step further today with the announcement of the company’s new line of cigarettes: Cancer Sticks.
“We believe in being up front about what we’re putting into people’s bodies or the consequences of using our products,” said company spokesperson Patrick Thiele. “The Frito-Lay folks try to tell you that Rold Gold pretzels don’t have much salt, and people at R.J. Reynolds are telling you that cigarettes aren’t necessarily the cause of cancer.
“But here’s a breath of fresh air, so to speak: Our cigarettes are gonna kill you, just like our aptly-named line of pretzels will cause high blood pressure.”
Cancer Sticks will be composed of tobacco that has been fortified with 834 toxic chemicals. “We’re not sure where half of these chemicals come from, but we’re sure they’re not very healthy,” Thiele said.
There will be 25 Cancer Sticks to a pack, a move that combines ethics with fiscal responsibility. “We believe in giving our customer the most for his dollar,” Thiele said. “I figure we’re already giving our customers emphysema and bad breath, but people can buy Vantage smokes and say the same thing. We decided giving it to them in 25 doses as opposed to 20 would be a real hook.”
While Philip Morris has the Marlboro Man, Nabisco has unveiled Deathbed David to pitch its cigarettes. “Double D” will be placed on the front of each pack and carton of Cancer Sticks, and will be used in magazine and billboard advertising in 46 states and most provinces in Canada.
Deathbed David is shown lying in a hospital bed, being fed through an IV and monitored by machines. He is smoking a Cancer Stick through a hole in his throat, the former location of his larynx.
“Once again, no bullshit here,” Thiele said. “We could have used a ‘Don Draper/Mad Men’ kind of character, a dashing stud who smokes at parties while scoping out his next extramarital affair, but we’re fans of the blunt truth, not Golden Globe–winning drama.
“Life ain’t no goddamn Salem ad,” Thiele added.
The logo seems to be a hit with people of all ages, if early focus groups are any indication.
“It’s comforting in a way,” said Alva Hemingston, an 58-year-old resident of Queens, N.Y., who speaks with the assistance of a resonating machine. “Since I wasn’t consulted on the design of the logo, it is obvious that I am not the only person who has a throat hole.
“All this time I thought I was the only person dumb enough to smoke to the point that resulted in the necessity of an unnatural orifice. I’ll be using Cancer Sticks for at least the next two weeks, assuming I live that long.”
Kids also find Deathbed David to be inspirational. “I read in Entertainment Weekly that Deathbed David is 83 years old and started smoking when he was 6,” said Justin Pomeran, a 12-year-old sixth grader at Franklin Pierce Middle School in Albany, N.Y. “I started when I was 10, so using Deathbed David logic, I should live to be at least 87—so long as I don’t eat too many Mister Salty pretzels.”