Feb. 2, 2012 03:50

Word Up: Muggles

Call your great gramps cuz we’re about to get old school! Let CULTURE introduce you to the term muggles, a slang term for a marijuana cigarette that hasn’t seen the light of day since, well, Louis Armstrong was blowing his best during the jazz scene of the 1920s and ’30s. In fact, Satchmo and His Orchestra even recorded a 12-bar blues track by that name in New York City in 1928. Sorry, Harry Potter freaks, the word was in popular usage way-way-way-way before J.K. Rowling’s daddums even thought about waving his, er, wand in the missus’ direction.


From jazz clarinetist Mezz Messrow’s memoirs:

“To us a muggle wasn't any more dangerous or habit-forming than those other great American vices, the five-cent Coke and the ice-cream cone, only it gave you more kicks for your money.”


According to jazz musician Hoagy Carmichael:

“It's the summer of 1923. We took two quarts of bathtub gin, a package of muggles and headed for the black-and-tan joint where King Oliver's band was playing.”


One 1931 Time magazine article describes:

“[Marijuana] leaves can be dried, ground and rolled into cigarettes, which are bootlegged under the name of muggles, reefers or Mary Warners. Thinner, shorter than standard cigarettes, muggles are made from the small delicate leaves of the female marijuana plant.

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