Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Andrew Wike]: This is a series that we reintroduced I think in the spring of last year, actually.
[Sykes Wilford]: Yes.
[AW]: But it's something we've been working on for quite some time. So, Sykes, you were there at the inception of this project. Do you want to talk for a little bit about how this all came to be, and what the overall intention was behind this?
[SW]: Sure. So, yeah, I'm putting my Peterson hat on for a moment. Over the last 40-plus years, we think of 1979/1980 as a breakpoint in Peterson's history. The number of shapes offered by Peterson shrank. And often they went from multiple different sizes of a similar shape. We still have many sizes of Billiards, but fewer than we did 50 years ago. It was typically the smaller shapes that were dropped in response to consumer demand during the '80s and '90s. Then there were also a number of old Peterson series that featured smaller-bowled pipes. Peterson, at this point, is mostly known for its bigger pipes. That's very true of the System line, but that's also pretty true of the Classic range.
[SW]: They're all medium sized to pretty large. And so we had the old Junior line, the old Reading pipes, and Specialty, which of course we continued to make through that era. But really making a line of — I mean, these are not tiny pipes, these are not little toy pretend pipes. They're real pipes, just like Group Two or Group Three in Dunhill terms, not 5 or 6 as typical for Peterson. And so, we wanted to do a series of pipes that took us back to some of those smaller pipe traditions that were part of Peterson's repertoire in the early part of the 20th century.
[AW]: Yeah, very cool. And I think that's really apparent in the shapes themselves. All of these remind me of 1920s designs, similar to what we were seeing coming out of France and England; they're very classic. They eschewed some of that tubular nature that you tend to find with Peterson stuff. But they're all really cool. And so Peterson originally launched these in, I think, March of 2023 and there were 10 shapes, and we did them in the Peterson rustication. And then over the last year we've also expanded that line to include the Ebony and then, most recently, five new shapes.
[SW]: Bent Billiard, the bent Bulldog, the Bulldog, the short Apple, and my favorite, the Belge.
[AW]: Yeah, those are all really great. And then also we're expanding the line even further with sandblasted editions and the new Heritage lines.
[SW]: Both of which are silver mounted instead of nickel mounted.
[AW]: Right, so in the past year we've taken these small pipes as an homage, in a sense, to early 20th century pipe design to a really well fleshed-out line in multiple finishes and in multiple shape variations.
[SW]: There's 15 shapes now, yeah. And I made the big pitch for this as part of Peterson's tradition, because we need to do that at Peterson, but also we just made pipes that I like.
[AW]: Yeah, as one does.
[SW]: As one does. When you have a pipe factory, the temptation to make the things you like can be overwhelming at times. And at least half of the bowls of pipe tobacco I've smoked in the last few months have been going through Juniors.
[AW]: Yeah, I've noticed that actually.
[SW]: I'm always smoking a Junior Billiard or a Junior Lovat. And then, because we released them more recently, the Belge. It's a perfectly sized pipe for me.
[AW]: And even with other pipes in your collection, you tend to prefer those Group Two, maybe smaller Group 3 chambers and stuff too.
[SW]: Well, I smoke smaller pipes in general. I mean, not tiny pipes. But a smaller range, definitely on the small end of a normal range of sizes. And I do that because I find small pipes far more practical for me than big pipes. The great market trend of the '80s and '90s and into the 2000s was that bigger is better. And that wasn't just an American phenomenon, it happened in other markets too.
For me, if I want to be able to work while smoking a pipe, it has to be small enough that I can sit it in my mouth. I like Straight pipes more than I like Bent pipes, by and large. This is not a universal statement, but I can smoke a pipe while working, I can smoke a pipe while hiking, I can smoke a pipe while hanging out with my family, much to my wife's chagrin, and I can smoke a pipe while cooking. I just don't know how you do that with a really big System Standard 307, for example.
[AW]: That's true.
[SW]: But with pipes this size, I find that very practical.
[AW]: Yeah, I think that's a really good explanation. And I think it says a lot about where the Junior line should fit into anyone's collection and rotation. If you're looking for a work pipe or something that you could toss into your bag or in your pipe case and not really have to worry about taking all of your accoutrement, these are ideal. A pipe this size is there to smoke and to enjoy your favorite blends without it being this huge time commitment or a whole session where you have to put on "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and smoke for three hours.
[SW]: I mean, Andy, you're a much more methodical and accoutrement-heavy pipe smoker than I am.
[AW]: That's true.
[SW]: I am much more inclined to put my Peterson Rustic Junior in my pocket, a tobacco pouch in my back pocket, and a BIC lighter in my other pocket, and then I tamp with my finger. I'm that kind of pipe smoker. Not all the time, but most of the time.
[AW]: It's pretty hardcore. I should really start tamping with my finger. Yeah.
[SW]: It hurts sometimes.
[AW]: It does. But yeah, I think that is exactly what the Peterson Junior line does for Peterson: it introduces a line of pipes that harken back to early 20th century pipe design. It's a different sort of approach to the classic shape chart with lots of different options. 15 different shapes dressed in lots of different finishes. All of these are Fishtails, right?
[AW]: So some are silver mounted, some are nickel mounted. But yeah, lots of different selections and really classic shapes. Yeah, so I think just depending on the type of smoker you are, there's definitely something there for everybody. Sykes, thank you again for joining me.
[SW]: Thank you so much, Andy.
[AW]: I'm really excited to see where this line continues to go over the next several years. And, yeah, I have another New Year's resolution now, which is to catch them all, one of each shape and finish. Let's go! Alright, thanks everybody for watching.
[SW]: Thank you.
[AW]: We'll see you next time.