Bongs: From 400 BC to Today
Today, bongs are a staple of the smoking industry as a whole. Every seasoned stoner has used or owns at least one bong. But it wasn't always like this!
From the very first bong to the hippie movement of the 60s to the bong crisis of 2003, this article will depict every major event that has lead to bongs being such a critical part of cannabis culture. Continue reading to find some interesting facts that will blow your friends away at your next smoke sesh!
The Beginnings of Glass Blowing
The history of glass blowing dates back to Ancient Rome in the first century. Glass was blown primarily to make vases and small beads. The Roman government then went on to establish large glass workshops.
In these days, glass was mostly used for decorative purposes only. It wasn't until 1,800 years later that glass bongs began to rise in popularity, more on this later.
A brief History of the Silk Road and Bongs in Central Asia
Although the oldest bong in the world was found in Russia, the first written records of bongs come from Ming Dynasty in China (Years 1368-1644). These records show that in the 1400s, the use of bongs began to spread along the Silk Road. They were traded alongside tobacco and dry herb.
After the Ming Dynasty, there was the Qing Dynasty which lasted from 1644 all the way up to 1912. The Qing Dynasty continued to popularize bong usage and some ancient bongs from that time period can even be found for sale on Ebay.
The most popular documented ancient bong use was from Empress Dowager Cixi, who was famously buried with her three prized bongs. Her bongs along with many others from this time period
What is the Oldest Bong in the World?
Taking a step back, we find that the earliest known bongs were found in Russia and are estimated to be over 2,400 years old. These first bongs were made of solid gold and were likely only used by royalty of the Iranian-Eurasian Sycth Tribe.
These gold bongs were lined with a thick black residue that was found to be a mix of cannabis and opium. It is interesting to know that people have been getting lit for over 2 thousand years.
Where does the name "Bong" come from?
As mentioned earlier, the, earliest written records of bong or water pipe usage was in Central Asia in the 14th century, but the name was most likely created much later. Although the exact origin of the word bong is not fully known, there are two main theories:
The first theory suggests the word bong came from the Thai word "buang," which refers to a bamboo water pipe that was used for smoking tobacco or herbs. This theory says that the word bong was brought to America by American Soldiers that were stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam war.
The second theory is that the bong got its name from the sound it makes when you take a big rip. This is most likely stoner lore and not accurate in our opinion.
Although the Thai origin is most likely, there is no concrete evidence surrounding the creation and use of the word bong. Regardless, today the term bong is used worldwide.
When were Glass Weed Bongs Invented?
Today, glass bongs are widely considered the superior bongs over bamboo, ceramic, metal and other materials. The popularity of glass bongs rose sharply in the 60s and 70s along with the hippie movement where marijuana began to rise in popularity.
The invention and popularity of the glass bong can be credited to Bob Snodgrass. He pushed the popularity and function of the modern glass bong while on tour with the Grateful Dead, a popular rock band that was formed in 1965. Dab rigs were also popularized around this same time.
Bob Snodgrass is responsible for the borosilicate, high quality glass bongs today. He is also credited with inventing "fuming" or coloring glass water pipes. As well as the classic spoon pipe we all know and love. Today, his original handblown pieces are worth thousands of dollars for their unique patterns and history.
The creativity and love for glass that Bob Snodgrass had has paved the way for the entire bong industry we have today. Without him, who knows where the smoke shop industry would be today.
The Bong Crisis of 2003
Years after the Flower Power and Hippie Movements of the 20th century, bongs and marijuana usage were starting to go mainstream. Cannabis was becoming more accepted by the general public. But then, in 2003, everything changed.
In 2003, the United States invested 12 million dollars to enact the "Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute" as an attempt to crack down on drug use and drug-related crimes. They launched an aggressive campaign on any item that is related to drug usage. This included: pipes, oil burners and most importantly, bongs.
As a result, all smoke shops and online stores took a massive hit. Many retailers attempted to sell bongs under alternative names such as: water pipes, bubblers or tobacco pipes, all while taking a massive risk.
The most famous arrest story was of Tommy Chong, the actor from the movie Cheech & Chong. He was arrested in October 2003 and spent nine months in jail after pleading guilty to "selling marijuana-smoking paraphernalia."
He was selling bongs and other glass smoking products through his family-owned online store named Nice Dreams Enterprises. Interestingly, his cellmate was stock market scammer Jordan Belfort, "The Wolf of Wallstreet."
Since then the federal government and many states have relaxed their laws surrounding "drug paraphernalia." They now allow for legal sales of bongs and other smoking devices.
People like Tommy Chong and others who went against the grain in 2003 paved the way for the bong industry we know and love today. They showed the government that no matter how hard they tried, glass bongs will remain a staple among stoners everywhere.
The Glass Bong Industry Grows
In 2003, the global smoking pipe market was estimated to be around 1 billion dollars. In 2021 the market was valued at 2.0 billion dollars By 2031, the global smoking pipe market is anticipated to grow to 3.1 billion dollars, making it a massive part of the cannabis market as a whole.
The bongs of today look much different than those of ancient times. We have moved on from using wood and clay to using high quality borosilicate glass and food grade silicone. Glassblowing technology has evolved to the point of mass production.
Today's bongs are loaded with extra attachments and complicated percolation systems. There are even electric bongs and laser bongs now!
Despite the seemingly endless types of bongs available today, they all date originate from that first golden bong. And they all achieve the same purpose. Smoking your herbs with water filtration.
Online Bong Retailers
With the massive growth and popularity of bongs in recent years, it has lead to massive demand in the smoke shop and head shop industry. Retail and online stores have been popping up left and right to meet this growing demand.
Many people have been accustomed to in-store shopping because you can see the product in person and get to use it that day. But as a result, you end up paying higher prices for a smaller selection.
The main advantage of shopping online is that the prices are much cheaper. Because online businesses have less costs, they can sell their products for much cheaper which benefits the customer. They also typically have a larger selection of products, so you can be better informed about your purchase.
Here at Golden Leaf we are proud to offer great prices along with fast customer service. But there any many different online smoke shops to choose from! Find one you like and a bong that's right for you!