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  • Gabriel Donio

Company that made local ‘50s cigar box still in business


People drop off items to The Gazette all the time.


We put photos of them in the newspaper, either in our “Hammonton’s History” and “Hammonton’s Sports History” sections, or in special supplements like “Treasures from The Gazette Archives.”


People in Hammonton love reading about history and seeing items from the town’s past.

A while ago, reader Marion Condo brought in an old cigar box that once held 15-cent cigars that the box advertised as being “Made In Hammonton, N.J.” The box was in very good condition. We gladly featured it in the newspaper. I noticed there was a bit of tiny writing on the inside of the lid of the box.


Upon closer inspection, I saw that it read “F.M. Howell & Co., Elmira, N.Y.”

Intrigued, I decide to research the name of the company online.


What I found astounded me.


They are still in business, and are a fourth-generation, family-owned and privately-held packaging company that was founded in 1883. F.M. Howell & Company is still working out of the company’s original headquarters, which according to research is a five-building complex built in the Italian Renaissance style and located along the banks of the Chemung River in Elmira, New York. In 1984, the buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places, as F.M. Howell is considered the oldest independent manufacturer for the 19th Century, sources said.


Their website is fmhowell.com.


Today, the company offers related services to the pharmaceutical industry and beyond, according to its website:


• Howell Marketing Services, a provider of fulfillment and distributions services.


• Howell Packaging, a provider of contract packaging services, specializing in the design and manufacture of folding cartons and rigid boxes.


• Howell Plastics, a leader in custom thermoforming of high-quality plastic packaging products.

The website said “The mission of F.M. Howell & Company is to provide packaging products and services in such a way that our customers will be completely satisfied and consider us to be their preferred supplier. We strive to be the BEST in all that we do.”


The website also included a history of the company that made the wooden box that found its way to Hammonton in a long-ago era—most likely the 1950s or a little earlier, according to my research.


I found it incredible that the company that made the box that contained local cigars from so long ago (research showed cigars were 15 cents in the 1950s) was not only still in business, but thriving in 2023.


It was interesting to read about the long history of the company based in Elmira, New York that made the cigar box. Here is that history from the F.M. Howell & Company website:


“On September 1, 1883, twenty-two-year-old Fred M. Howell and his business partner purchased a box-making business that made wooden cigar boxes and paperboard candy and shoe boxes. In later years, Howell became a high-quality printer of cigar box labels, cigar bands, and menus for hotel restaurants, steamship lines, and railroads.


“Today, F. M. Howell & Company operates as a fourth generation, family-owned business and has grown to become a leading provider of packaging products and services to the pharmaceutical, industrial, and consumer products industries. Howell received national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) in 2009.


“Howell’s expertise in package design engineering and manufacturing, along with our adherence to stringent standard operating procedures has been a cornerstone of our success. Our relentless pursuit of quality and continuous improvement allow us to survive and thrive in an incredibly competitive world.


“Our three divisions, located in four facilities in Elmira, New York, provide packaging products and fulfillment and distribution services to customers both domestically and internationally.


“Proud of our rich history, F. M. Howell & Company has earned a reputation as a solid, customer-oriented firm with a tradition of concern and care for its employees and its community.”


Thanks again to Marion Condo for giving us an item with such a unique history—both for Hammonton and for F.M. Howell & Company in Elmira, New York.


Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.

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