When Disneyland opened in 1955, many of the stores on Main Street, U.S.A. were quite different than we know them today. Honestly, you would probably be a bit shocked by a couple of them, but more on that next week. Given Disney’s 2007 decision to ban smoking in their films and even digitally remove smoking from a few older cartoons, I was surprised to learn Main Street used to be home to a tobacco shop.
Located between the Illusion Shop and the Main Street Cinema, the Tobacconist was the place to go for all of your tobacco needs. It opened in 1955 and was one of the original stores on the street. Handcrafted pipes, tobacco, and other smoking supplies from around the world were available for purchase in this store. The Tobacconist also sold many different brands of cigarettes; however, these were hidden under the counter. They also offered complimentary Tobacconist matchbooks.
Today, with the exception of designated smoking areas, Disneyland is a smoke free park. But in the 1950s, guests were free to smoke wherever they liked, excluding attractions, throughout the park. It was not uncommon to smell cigarettes or cigars as you walked around Disneyland. They also had ash trays located at the entrance to each attraction.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the Indian figure still found today on Main Street. This figure is left over from the days of the Tobacconist shop. A very long time ago, tobacco stores would often place an Indian figure outside of their store. To the many people who did not know how to read, this Indian would let them know the store sold tobacco. This was very similar to how a barber shop might use a picture of scissors to convey which service they offered. The tobacco stores used Indians as a symbol for their products because Indians first introduced the Europeans to tobacco.
In the late 19th century, tobacco stores stopped using Indian figures in front of their stores. Many cities passed new ordinances which prohibited these figures from blocking sidewalks. When the tobacco shop was removed from Main Street, the Indian stayed as a reminder of the past. To this day, he can still be found on Main Street, U.S.A.
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