I was flipping through the July 6, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone magazine (RS-113) when on page 33 I saw a full-page ad that caught my attention.
“The Toker is scientifically designed to change harsh smoke into a mild aerated form that doesn’t irritate your throat or lungs (there’s no coughing). It’s also designed to cause you to draw the smoke deeper than you would using conventional methods of smoking. Since the smoke is mild, you can hold it longer. Which means it works faster. Let’s you reduce the amount of smoking mixture you use by about half! And, removes almost all smoking odors (so, there’s no paranoia).”
I mean, come on. This is ridiculous on about a million levels.
But hey, “If you don’t dig it, no hassle. You’ll get your money back!” Which is good because $15 in 1972 had the same buying power as $88.11 in 2017.
So a little googling reveals that the Instrument Research Corporation filed for a trademark on “Toker” on May 10, 1972. And it was registered on March 26, 1974. But alas, the trademark expired in 1995, so if anybody wants to pick it back up, go nuts. Other trademarks by the Instrument Research Corporation included Tokerator, Toker II, Mini-Toker, and Steamroller. High times, indeed.
Wikipedia tells us that bongs have been used in Laos and Thailand, and all over Africa, for centuries. The word comes from the Thai word baung. But was the Toker™ the first commercially available bong in the United States? The internet has let me down in researching this.
Is it possible that American stoners weren’t ripping bongs until 1972? That seems crazy to me. But what do I know about partying or anything else?
I wonder if “Dealin’ By Mail” still checks their P.O. box in Virginia…
PS – Speaking of bongs, I’ve been looking for a photo of “DO BONGS” graffiti for years now. If you find any — especially if it’s on a water tower — please please please pass it along.