The Lost World of Peter Stuyvesant?

Now and then you’ll hear people saying: “Aviation just isn’t the ‘World of Peter Stuyvesant’ anymore.” For younger readers and those who may have forgotten: “The World of Peter Stuyvesant” was once used to sell cigarettes of the same name. Of course I have some idea of what it all means, but I wanted to find out how this concept originated. Having smoked like a chimney for more than three decades, I quit the habit about a year and a half ago, so you can rest assured that this blog certainly isn’t intended as an advertorial. That said, please join me on my brief quest for a world that has apparently been lost.

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Get-up-and-go

Let’s start with the question as to how the link between smoking and aviation originated. Personally, I don’t really associate these two things with one another. So I checked YouTube and found a 1970s cinema commercial for this American cigarette brand. The commercial, featuring modern young couples drinking deeply from the goblet of life, clearly does make this link. They’re a happy-go-lucky bunch, full of get-up-and-go, which evidently makes it oh-so-simple to hook up with kindred spirits as they go about their jet-set lives. And of course they smoke the brand in question. In a restaurant.

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The link with aviation

In the commercial, the young couple take the Concorde to New York. That was a big thing back in those days, as I recall. Hurtling across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound was all rather glamorous and pricey, which explains why the young couple in the commercial leave the plane looking almost hysterically enthusiastic. They then fall into the arms of their friends who are, oddly, waiting for them out on the tarmac, before heading into New York for more fun and games.

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More about Peter

But who was Peter Stuyvesant, you may well ask. He was a Dutch colonial administrator who played an important role in the history of New York, where he was governor from 1645 until 1664, when the city fell into British hands. Born sometime around 1612, Stuyvesant was christened Pieter but later changed his name to Petrus, which American historians subsequently changed to Peter sometime in the 19th century. One of the oldest streets in New York is named after him, there is a bust of him outside St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, and there is even an annual Peter Stuyvesant Ball in New York.

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And what about his world?

The person who came up with the “World of Peter Stuyvesant” and its link to aviation clearly saw flying as a privilege, one of the pleasures of a fast-moving, modern society populated by cosmopolitans, by men and women of the world. I associate this jet-set lifestyle with successful business deals sealed with copious quantities of champagne and other pleasures. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course. All of which brings me back to the fact that some claim aviation is no longer really a part of this world, which seems to indicate that flying has somehow become less classy, less sophisticated.

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I beg to differ. In fact, I would argue that aviation has improved as a product since the days of the Concorde, that it is conceived with greater care and that passengers get more direct attention from the average airline than they did in the past. And all this has been achieved in a booming and fiercely competitive industry that is making air travel accessible to more and more people. (You have to work hard if you want to live on air – as KLM founder Albert Plesman put it.) Quite frankly, I don’t really miss the glamorous “World of Peter Stuyvesant”. I much prefer getting the attention I need. And the fact that we’re no longer allowed to smoke on board.

Join the conversation Show comments

Stephen

Is this why tobacco always heavily features in an airlines onboard shop?

Frido Ogier

I don’t think so, but on board of aircraft you can of course buy dutyfree sigarettes which is much cheaper :-)

Best regards,

Frido

Stephen

Thanks for replying Frido!

I guess I put two and two together and got ten :)

Do you think a plane like concorde will ever come back?

Yvonne Lucas

In the late seventies and early eighties KLM served small packages of different brands of cigarettes to First Class passengers on board.
Even big Balmoral cigars were given away, which passengers were allowed to smoke on board. As were pipes!

At first they banned cigars and pipes.

Then they decided that it was better to make different smoking and non-smoking sections, so they divided the plane in a left (smoking) and right-hand side (non-smoking)!
That did not work, so they changed it in the first few rows of a section (non-smoking) and the last few rows were smoking-rows.
Ofcourse that didn’t work either, because passengers behind a smoking section still suffered from it.
So finally they banned all smoking aboard and that was a great relief!

Elizabeth Phillips

Times are changing, using such photos, for advertising today, would be outrageous, to promote an Airline showing people lighting up, and to think smoking was at one time very chic, and cool, however we now know it’s not very cool. I would like to pose the question,! how bad would it must of been for a non-smoker to be seated next to a death stick holder? I do love the graphic showing the couple saying farewell, as they walk up the stairwell to enjoy a flight to remember, showing of course the KLM merchandise. Don’t you just love the slick, very chic clean cut image for advertising travelling.

Dave

Frido …
In the Rhodesias and South Africa during the early Sixties we had television (for the Rhodesias) and cinema adverts (for South Africa) for Peter Stuyvesant … the images showed chic passengers disembarking from a Boeing 707 jet and lighting up a cigarette, the tagline was:

“Peter Stuyvesant — The International Passport to Smoking Pleasure “

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