Search Content

Search form

Explore the World of Cigars
Cigar 101

What Are Swishers?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

What Are Swishers?

Swisher Sweets are the ultimate mass-produced machine-made cigars. They’re cheap and readily available. You can find them in some premium cigar shops as well as almost anywhere cigarettes are sold, like gas stations and convenience stores. Swishers are made from homogenized short-filler (or chopped-up) tobaccos beneath a wrapper that is applied with a machine. There are many differences between handmade and machine-made cigars.

The Swisher Sweets brand is not considered premium because its cigars are made by machines, not by hand, and many of its cigars are flavored. The company’s footprint in the mass-market is extensive. Much of Swisher’s success is owed to its longevity and its widespread distribution. Let’s pull the curtain back on an old-school, iconic American brand.

History of Swishers

In 1861, a cigar business was given to Daniel Swisher, a merchant from Newark, Ohio, to settle a debt. Swisher operated the business with his four sons, hand-rolling cigars in a single-room factory in Newark. They sold their cigars from wagons as they traveled throughout the Midwest. Two of Swisher’s sons, John and Harry, bought the company from their father in 1888 and rechristened it Swisher Brothers. By 1895, the company operated three factories and employed over 1,000 workers who handcrafted up to 300,000 cigars per day.

John Swisher’s son, Carl, eventually took the company over and relocated it to Jacksonville, Florida, in the early 1920s to take advantage of the region’s climate and its proximity to shipping channels and raw materials. Swisher is headquartered there today. Swisher was the first company to utilize cigar rolling-machines. The company began operating with its modern equipment when it was installed in the Swisher factory in 1924. This new mass-production of cigars transformed the industry with unrivaled efficiency and a consistently uniform output. By the end of the 1920s, Swisher’s production swelled to 100 million cigars per year. The company was also the first to wrap individual cigars in cellophane.

Throughout the Great Depression, Swisher thrived despite the dire economic circumstances of the 1930s. Demand for Swisher cigars soared and the company added hundreds of employees to its operations which were consolidated into its Florida facility. Swisher cut prices of its popular King Edward cigars from 5 cents apiece to two cigars for 5 cents due to the greatly increased profit margins created by the company’s modern cigar-making machines. In 1941, the Swisher factory was the largest cigar factory in the world. In 1958, the company debuted Swisher Sweets, its flavored machine-made brand. By 1964, Swisher produced four million cigars per day. Its brands were sold in all 50 states and 47 countries.

Today, the parent company of Swisher Sweets, Swisher International, is a global giant with an extensive portfolio of machine-made brands, chewing tobacco, snuff, and tobacco-free alternatives. Its flavored brands include Swisher Sweets, King Edward, Optimo Natural Leaf, BlackStone, Pom Pom, Santa Fe, and more. Swisher International also produces several smokeless non-tobacco nicotine products, including gum, lozenges, tablets, and pouches. In 2014, Swisher International acquired its first premium handmade brand, Drew Estate, which includes the flavored Acid brand of cigars and the non-flavored Liga Privada line. As of 2020, Swisher International shipped over 2 billion cigars per year to over 70 countries.

What’s the Difference Between Backwoods and Swishers?

Backwoods and Swishers are cheap machine-made brands best-known for their flavored varieties. Both brands are frequently consumed by marijuana smokers who split or unravel their flavored cigarillos to create what is called a blunt. Because we are a premium cigar retailer, we don’t advocate this practice, but more importantly, we don’t advocate smoking low-quality homogenized tobacco of any kind, regardless of how you’re consuming it.

However, a great debate rages among blunt enthusiasts over the practicality of Backwoods versus Swishers. Backwoods cigars are stronger than Swishers and, apparently, the wrappers on Backwoods are easier to unwrap for other purposes. While Swisher Sweets are milder, their wrappers have to be split apart as opposed to unfurled, which can be a messy process. If you want our unfettered advice, smoke a premium handmade brand and pour yourself a nice scotch. It will taste better than any cigars you can buy at a gas station and you’ll probably never crave a machine-made cigar again.

Featured Products

Related Posts

Cigar 101
Handmade vs. Machine Made Cigars

The long and short of it. That’s really, for the most part, what this lesson is about. Filler, that is.

Cigar 101
Infusing Cigars with Alcohol

Whether you simply enjoy a little extra taste on your lips from the tip of your cigar or you’re officially devoted to a flavored brand, we’re shedding some light on how to. Read More

Cigar 101
What Are Acid Cigars Infused With?

Acid cigars were an experiment at first. The trial and error that went into creating the many different blends that make up Acid today has paid handsome dividends...