By Doug Myers
Anyone who knows me is well aware by now that I am a codger smoker. However, I bet if you asked any of those people what a codger was, you would get a range of answers as wide as the list of pipe blends on the market. So, I figured I would take a humble stab at explaining what exactly a codger is.
So, what is a codger? I know many have this question. How do I know this, you may ask? Well, out of the over two hundred videos I’ve posted on my channel, my “What is a Codger?” video has by far exceeded the number of views of any other video I’ve done—by thousands! To understand this honored type of piper, we need to go back a long way, back to when pipe smokers were everywhere. Ah, the thought of it—no crinkled noses, cancer curses, or judgmental comments. It is just a well-accepted and mostly nice-smelling hobby. But the one thing they didn’t have in this time era that we do is the interconnectedness of social media, online retailers, and that round-the-calendar Santa Claus we call Amazon.
You see, when these pipe smokers wanted a new pipe or tobacco, they didn’t turn to online retailers or virtual pipe trading clubs; they went to the corner drug store, the general store, or the Five and Dime. So these gents (and sometimes ladies) were at the mercy of a handful of tobaccos and pipes carried by their local merchants – Dr. Grabow, Medico, and Yello-Bole, to name a few—right next to the Half and Half, Carter Hall, and Prince Albert. Sure, if you had money and status, you could get the higher-dollar pipes or the rarer blends, but most pipe smokers of the time were what we affectionately refer to as “the codger smoker.” It was the person who worked all week and had just enough to pick up a pouch of their favorite smoke after the bills were paid and the groceries bought. They didn’t have a cellar or 30 blends at their fingertips; it was just their old, reliable tobacco that got them through the week. The pipe was, in most cases, smoked until it was so caked up and/or burned out that replacing it with another drugstore pipe was the only answer. The days of proper pipe maintenance (in most cases) and online tutorials were still a long way away.
So, in my humble opinion, these were the true codger smokers—the ones who blazed a trail they didn’t even know they were taking. But that leads us to another question: Are codger smokers the same today? In short, no. Are there still those who only have one pipe a day—the one they light in the morning and put out when they go to bed? I’m sure they’re out there, but I think that the definition has taken on a new shape in our era. I think it’s the shape of the guy who’s not afraid to try a new pipe or a new blend but knows that the old reliables are still the staples of their hobby.
Now I should pause here to say that there is nothing wrong with NOT being a codger. By all means, if you have the money and the desire, the world is your oyster. But this article isn’t about Esoterica, Dunhills, and 500 pipe collections; it’s about unrefined contentment with the staples of the pipe world. In my pipe room (The Pipe Rest), you will find no more than 20 pipes. Out of those 20, the ones that get smoked on a regular basis are two Dr. Grabows and two Petersons (and all of them are bent billiards). Admittedly, I’m not done. I would love to add a Meerschaum and another Peterson or two, but my staples are my staples. Being a codger is not for everyone, so there is no pressure there; we need everyone we have in the pipe world to make this wonderful hobby so accessible. But nod your head to the codger ladies and gents, for they are the ones who got us here.
If you want to learn more about Doug, you can visit his youtube channel…