In the past, the White House handed out individual cigars sealed in a white tin tube with the presidential seal in gold as a party favor for state dinners – or to be given to Oval Office guests. I have been told that the practice lost favor during the Clinton administration. Cigars and Oval Office visits were never the same – and if you do not know why, do the research.
That is why I was surprised to receive an email offering me a chance to purchase a box of 20 cigars emblazoned with President Trump’s profile for $250 dollars. If that was beyond my budget or desire, I could buy a singleton for a mere $20.
According to the email, I would be getting “an exquisite Old World cigar dedicated to our 45th President, Donald J. Trump. President Trump is a winner, and so are you. We encourage you to light one up in celebration of President Trump’s historic election and all of his accomplishments as well as your own. Most liberals abhor cigars and everything else that’s great. This is your chance to blow smoke in their faces.”
It was obvious that the offering was imbued with political meaning. I always knew that liberals hated traditional American values, but I was not aware that it extended to cigars.
Not only would I be getting 20 cigars at the bargain price of $12.50 each, but they come in a box with a “beautiful burl finish” (meaning not real burl wood), a “Spanish cedar” lining, “built-in humidifier” and “premium internal hinges.” It is the hinges that are the real grabber.
On the lid is a golden profile of President Trump inside a laurel wreath with the Roman numerals XLV – referring to Trump as the 45th President for you non-Romans. I would describe it in more detail, but you can see it atop this commentary.
I was immediately struck by the fact that nowhere on the box is the name Donald J. Trump … or President Trump. There were frequent mentions of him within the solicitation email, however.
What drew my attention was the name of the “brand,” if you will. They were called “IL Presidente” – a title we often associated with South American dictators. I was further taken aback that the cigars were made in Nicaragua – not America. Surely, the White House or the Trump re-election campaign committee would not be so tone deaf as to tie Trump to banana republic tropes – and would not be peddling products made in foreign countries.
As I delved deeper into the solicitation email, I found a detailed description attesting to the fine quality of the tobacco. In fact, the outer wrap was of the “maduro leaf.” You just cannot make this stuff up.
Suddenly, I am starting to think that this is some practical joke – a bit of satire by one of those cigar-hating liberals. But nooooo. All I had to do was put that box of cigars in my cart and use my credit card and I would be receiving those cigars.
Finally, I got to the disclaimer. This bit of merchandising has nothing to do with Trump – not as President, not as a future candidate, not as a businessman and not even as a cigar smoker – which he is not.
The disclaimer – in smaller print, of course – read thusly.
“No proceeds from the sale of this product will go to Donald J. Trump or the Donald Trump Campaign (including Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.) (collectively, the “Trump Campaign”), and the purchase of this product does not constitute a donation to the Trump Campaign. We encourage you to support the Trump Campaign by making a donation at: https://www.donaldjtrump.com. Neither Vallorani Cigars nor this product are provided, endorsed, sponsored by, or affiliated with Donald J. Trump or the Donald Trump Campaign (including Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.) (collectively, the “Trump Campaign”), and the Trump Campaign does not provide any support or warranty for this product. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN is a registered trademark of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”
Whew! That’s a relief.
It turns out that this is purely a commercial venture by Vallorani Cigars – a company that brands its cigars with famous people and events. You can even get the “Luigi” with a small photo of the company founder, Luige Vallorani, who was born in 1891. You can get a couple of bags of coffee with some cigar deals.
I must digress to give you a bit of the promotion of the “Luigi” cigar. It strikes me as a wee bit bizarre.
“One cold Italian night, as he [Luigi] reached for his cigar, he picked up a scorpion instead by mistake. He quickly tossed it in the fire, narrowly avoiding a nasty sting. This is one of many examples that capture the essence of Luigi’s long life. He was a strong, independent man who was not afraid to resort to violence if it meant protecting his family and his business. This is where we derive this robust cigar’s namesake.”
The company now appears to be in the hands of Brandon Vallorani, who bills himself as “CEO of Republican Legion” – whatever the hell that is.
Needless to say, I will not be puffing on an “Il Presidente” in the near future, but then again, I do not smoke at all.
So, there ‘tis.