“Something NEW has been added!”

by John Holbo on December 15, 2010

I always figured that great scene, and great line, from “The Hep Cat” was some sort of early 1940’s pop culture reference. Now I know.



Glen Tomkins 12.15.10 at 3:58 am

We were able to import tobacco from the eastern Mediterranean (the “something new” in these coffin nails) in March of 1941?


Junius Ponds 12.15.10 at 4:42 am

I think the use in the cartoons, AND the cigarette ad, are references to one of Jerry Colonna‘s catchphrases. The strange eyes on the woman being also a Jerry Colonna reference, I bet! Jerry Colonna was directly mimicked by Warner Bros. with the “Wacky Worm” character.

The last line of this cartoon is also in the Colonna voice, though that wasn’t one of his catchphrases.

For all these boingboing people’s knowledge, I bet not a one of them is over 80 years old.


John Holbo 12.15.10 at 8:10 am

That’s awesome, thanks Junius! I’ll bet you’re right about her eyes. (Now I’m going to go listen to the podcast.)

But it must be a Colonna catchphrase, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to have her have her eyes.

And this thread suggests as much:



John Holbo 12.15.10 at 8:36 am

Wow. Now that I’ve heard him, I think maybe that crazy Daffy Duck scat from “Book Revue” – which is supposed to be a Danny Kaye goof –


might be a kind of combined Danny Kaye/Colonna goof.


dave heasman 12.15.10 at 12:20 pm

The tune at the beginning, which is repeated toward the middle, is either “The Five-O’Clock Whistle” or “A Slip of the Lip Could Sink a Ship”. Same tune for both songs. Both recorded by Duke Ellington with Ivie Anderson vocals.


Hoagy27 12.15.10 at 2:27 pm

The “new” ingredient is, of course, latakia.


Bloix 12.15.10 at 2:32 pm

Is it only me or is the finger in the nose that precedes the “something new” line as grotesquely obscene as it seems?


Gene O'Grady 12.15.10 at 3:34 pm

I’m not old enough to remember that ad, but I distinctly recall that line in a laundry detergent ad from the 50’s or 60’s. I think it was about adding bleach to the detergent.


Glen Tomkins 12.15.10 at 3:37 pm


Thanks for the latakia reference. But identifying the “something new” that has been added as a tobacco from Syria only sharpens the puzzle.

Syria was a French mandate after WWI. By March 1941, the date of the ad that John cites, it would have been Vichy control since summer 1940 (right?). I guess that Vichy was still trading with us prior to December 1941, but weren’t the British blockading all Axis-controlled commerce at this time? I’m pretty sure that GB declared war on Vichy, as they sank as much of the French fleet as they could access right after the Petain govt capitulated, and that seems pretty much as flagrant an act of war as you could ask for. You’ld think that they would have no trouble blockading goods shipped from Latakia, as they controlled both Gibralter and the Suez Canal, and you can’t get out of the Mediterranean except past one of those two alternatives.

Maybe Big Tobacco was big enough, even then, to bend even the British lion to its will.


Norwegian Guy 12.15.10 at 4:55 pm

According to Wikipedia, most Latakia tobacco is currently produced in Cyprus. As Cyprus was under British rule in 1941, it could have been the source of the tobacco.


roac 12.15.10 at 5:09 pm

According to this timeline, Vichy broke diplomatic relations with Britain in July of 1940, three days after the sinking of the fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, but I don’t see that there was ever a declaration of war — even though there were plenty of actual hostilities, even before the Torch invasion of North Africa. The British took Syria away from Vichy in June and July of 1941, and Madagascar in the summer of 1942 (to keep the Japanese from setting up bases there).

Even after Torch, Vichy broke off relations with the US but did not declare war. Of course, the German occupation of the whole country made it an academic question.


roac 12.15.10 at 5:19 pm

I’m wrong. This source says that the British did indeed blockade the French Levantine ports until July 1941, causing serious economic hardship to the population. So Glen is right about that.


Glen Tomkins 12.15.10 at 10:50 pm

I think that the only way this makes sense is if we follow the Norwegian Guy’s suggestion that this latakia must have been grown in Cyprus, outside its home “terroir” of Latakia.

I imagine that we were trying to help the Brits earn some dollars by buying up this latakia, which, you could further spin the tale, had lost access to its prior market on the Continent. Perhaps Lorillard was induced to participate by means of the contract to supply cigarrettes to GIs in the newly expanded draft Army. I know that by the Vietnam era, they issued cigarrettes with the C-rations, though I’m not sure when this practice began.

Quite a speculative pyramid to build on one small detail.


Junius Ponds 12.15.10 at 11:13 pm

I never guessed this would turn into a discussion of naval blockades on the Near Eastern protectorates of the Vichy regime. John Holbo will have to start another Jerry Colonna thread sometime.


Bloix 12.16.10 at 6:10 pm

So no one else thought that the “something new” in the cartoon was completely outrageous? As they used to say at Berube’s place, chic-a-wow-chic-a-wow-wow! Or something like that.


Junius Ponds 12.16.10 at 6:16 pm

He doesn’t put his finger “in” the nose.


Bloix 12.16.10 at 9:17 pm

Junius, look at 4:18 – 4:22 and tell me what you see.


lemmy caution 12.16.10 at 10:36 pm

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