When you’re writing the list of the most famous stoners, there is absolutely no doubt about two of the names you’ll find near the top every single time — Cheech & Chong.
The comic duo of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are legends whose legacy is dotted with classic movies and unforgettable comedy bits. They’ve given us catchphrases that will last a lifetime and jokes worth repeating for decades.
Simply put, if you don’t know Cheech & Chong, you’ve probably been asleep since 1970. That’s especially true in the smoke-shop industry, where Cheech & Chong aren’t just a recognizable name, but they’re actual living legends who are still out there entertaining the masses and staying connected to the cannabis community.
So, in 2014, when it came time for Cheech & Chong to finally have their own officially licensed line of glass pipes, it was a big deal. They linked up with West Coast Gifts, a Vancouver-based business with roots that go back decades in the smoke-shop industry. It was a pretty fitting choice, as Chong had lived in Vancouver for a spell before his career really took off. Vancouver, it turns out, is where he and Cheech met for the first time.
It’s one thing to bring a new glass line to the market. It’s a much heavier task to create a glass line that’s influenced and approved by two of the most famous stoners of all time. After all these years — remember: “Up in Smoke” came in 1978 — expectations were high, so were the stakes. Well, West Coast Gifts has risen to the challenge, creating a line that’s been successful both in sales and creativity.
“It’s been all smiles and good times,” says Nick Wamsley, the glass designer for West Coast Gifts. “The thing I find so interesting with this brand is that people don’t buy just one glass pipe to smoke from. We have found collectors will buy several pipes at a time.”
Creating the official Cheech & Chong™ glass? That’s like being the guy tasked with creating the new version of “Star Wars” or being the next person assigned to draw Mickey Mouse. The familiarity is wonderful, but there’s an important legacy to protect. Thus began the challenge of bringing Cheech & Chong™ Glass to life.
In the thick of things was Wamsley, a veteran glassblower who was brought on board as West Coast Gift’s glass designer around the time it signed the deal with Cheech & Chong. It was his job to design a line that pulled out what people loved from the past about Cheech & Chong, merge it with modern smoke sensibilities and create something that appealed to the people who have been smoking since the ’70s and the people who weren’t even born yet in the ’70s.
“We’ve definitely had conversations about this,” Wamsley says. “We have this line that hits the novice but also has a lot of cool stuff for the people who know every little thing about glass.”
That’s the necessary duality of Cheech & Chong™ Glass. By nature, it’s going to attract people who aren’t the savviest smoke-shop customers, but have followed Cheech & Chong closely for decades. They’ll recognize the name Cheech & Chong and immediately be interested. Those customers are important, but so are the glass pipe collectors and smoking connoisseurs. The hard truth is, Cheech & Chong™ Glass has to serve both audiences with the same amount of function, design and attention to detail.
A big part of that, Wamsley says, is listening to the icons themselves.
“They send us product ideas. They’ve helped with marketing and promotions. They’ve been a real treat to work with,” Wamsley says. “We don’t just make stuff and send it out.” They approve every single product that comes through our line.”
That sounds like something that should always be part of the process with celebrity glass lines, but it isn’t. At West Coast Gifts, they don’t just slap a few decals on their glass and all of a sudden it’s Cheech & Chong’s signature line. No, this had to be more than that. This had to combine their vision with their history.
That’s where Wamsley comes in. He’s a big Cheech & Chong fan, who was able to dig into the movies he loved as a teenager and create products that should be instantly recognizable to the duo’s biggest fans.
“It really started out with deciding the feel of the products,” Wamsley says. “How to make it true to Cheech & Chong and where they’re coming from, graphic-wise and glass-wise. We’re trying to bring in that old-school style with color-changing aspects and stuff like that. But we’re also really trying to bring in some things that you don’t always see. We definitely have some things that are pretty unique in the line because people want to see that.”
So Wamsley created products like the Labrador, which is a hand pipe modeled after the huge spliff in “Up in Smoke.” That immediately became a hit, so they made an even bigger one. It remains one of the best sellers in the Cheech & Chong™ Glass line.
Some of the other top sellers these days include the Blind Melon Chitlin and the Basketball Jones. Another piece draws inspiration from their ice-cream truck. A couple of the newest and more creative pieces are the icicle and bulb Christmas Tree ornament pipes. It looks like a pipe on one side and an ornament on the other. This was an idea directly from Cheech & Chong and is already a big hit this holiday season. Most of the products come with names inspired by scenes in Cheech & Chong’s movies or comedy routines. Since Cheech & Chong™ Glass hit the market in June 2015, there have been almost 100 products — ranging from hand pipes and water pipes to oil rigs and flower bubblers. The packaging is important too. The water pipes and rigs come packaged with leather tie-dye boxes and certificates of authenticity. The hand pipes come with amazing tie-dye pouches for storage and protection with the Cheech & Chong logo on them.
Most of the products come with names inspired by scenes in Cheech & Chong’s movies or comedy routines. Since Cheech & Chong™ Glass hit the market in June 2015, there have been almost 100 products — ranging from hand pipes and water pipes to oil rigs and flower bubblers. The packaging is important too. The water pipes and rigs come packaged with leather tie-dye boxes and certificates of authenticity. The hand pipes come with amazing tie-dye pouches for storage and protection with the Cheech & Chong logo on them.
That’s part of the vision for Cheech & Chong™ Glass: Make things that are cool and different and surprising, while keeping the legacy of Cheech & Chong growing in new directions.
“It definitely gets me excited to do that,” Wamsley says. “We’re looking for even more down the line. We’re always coming up with new stuff, trying to push the envelope a bit and come out with quality glass that is fun and enhances the smoking experience.