Our Story

John W. Pinkerton and Company

About Us

Pinkerton Tobacco was founded in 1887 by John W. Pinkerton when he bought controlling interest in the Worstall Cigar and Tobacco company in Zanesville, Ohio. On August 5th, 1887, he created the formula for Red Man chewing tobacco, which has become the best-selling chewing tobacco in the world.

During World War II sugar rationing limited the amount of sugar available to flavor Red Man Chew. Sherwood Pinkerton Jr., President of the company and a chemist, discovered a way to maintain the great taste of Red Man Chewing Tobacco by using sugar substitutes from natural fruits. Pinkerton Tobacco produced this formula from 1942 until the mid-50s.

In June 1967, Pinkerton became the first manufacturer to pack all of its brands in a resealable foil pouch.

In 1973, a new factory was officially opened in Owensboro, Kentucky.

When Pinkerton moved its’ headquarters to Richmond, Virginia, in 1986, the decision was made to continue to produce all their products at the Owensboro facility.

In the early 1990s, Pinkerton launched their first moist snuff and since then expanded into more brands and expanded production capabilities. Altogether, Pinkerton Tobacco is responsible for nearly 150 years of tobacco excellence and innovation—a tradition that continues to this day.

Our People

John W. Pinkerton

John W. Pinkerton was born in 1843, the eldest child of second-generation American, David Pinkerton. After serving in the Civil War, Pinkerton returned to Zanesville, Ohio where he entered the wholesale grocery business. After succumbing to the highly competitive market, Pinkerton purchased controlling interest in Worstall Cigar and Tobacco Company, which eventually became Pinkerton Tobacco. John Pinkerton lead the company for 35 years, until his death in 1922.

Orr B. Bovard

Orr B. Bovard worked at Pinkerton Tobacco for much of his life. He became President of Pinkerton Tobacco after his father-in-law, John Pinkerton, passed away on November 25, 1922.

Sherwood M. Pinkerton Jr.

Sherwood Pinkerton received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan before serving in World War I. He eventually served as Vice President and Treasurer of his grandfather’s company, and in 1940 assumed the role of President.