BURLINGTON, W.Va. — For years, bright red barns with “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” painted across them were a common sight in West Virginia and other rural states.
Today, a barn along U.S. Route 50 is being utilized to advertise a very different message.
The Mail Pouch barns were hand-painted years ago by a crew of men from the Wheeling, West Virginia/Ohio area who would pay the barn owners between $1-$2 a year for the privilege of painting the advertisement on the sides of their barn. They would paint the ads on the sides that were visible from the highway, and then paint the other sides of the barn whatever color the farmer chose.
The purpose was twofold – Mail Pouch had a highly visible advertisement for their chewing tobacco and the farmer had a fresh coat of paint on his barn.
The barn-painting project went on for many years, and resulted in the familiar signs popping up on barns in 22 states throughout the country.
When the original painter retired in 1992, however, Mail Pouch decided to suspend the use of its barn advertisement program, and what few Mail Pouch advertisements that remained have either been painted over or have fallen into disrepair.
Recently, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, or CADCA, decided to pick up the barn idea … with a bit of a twist. The agency is now recruiting the use of barns located along America’s more traveled highways to broadcast various tobacco prevention messages.
Last week, they dedicated Mineral County’s first tobacco prevention barn…