Edison himself has played many a practical joke upon his employees, and in the early phonograph days he enjoyed many a laugh on them with the aid of his "talking machine." Sometimes, however, the joke was on him, as was instanced by the "fake cigar" story, which was a popular Edison anecdote twenty odd years ago. Edison was always an inveterate smoker, and used to keep a number of boxes of cigars in his room, and these were a constant object of interest to his associates. First one man, then another, would enter the room, ask Edison some trivial question, and when leaving would manage, unseen, to insert his hand in one of the boxes and annex three or four choice cigars. Edison began to suspect something of the kind, and one day he called on his tobacconist, explained things, and got the man to fix up some fearful "smokes," consisting of old bits of rag, tea leaves, and shavings, and worth about two dollars a barrel. These were done up in attractive-looking boxes, and delivered to the laboratory. Nothing happened, however; there was a falling off in the number of Edison's visitors, but no casualties were reported. Then one day Edison again called at the store, and inquired of his dealer if he had forgotten to send up the fake cigars. "Why, Mr. Edison," replied the amazed tobacconist, "I sent up ten boxes of the worst concoctions I could make two months ago. Ain't your men through with them yet?" Then Edison made a rapid calculation, divided the number of cigars by his daily allowance, and was forced to the painful conclusion that he had consumed those "life destroyers" himself. There and then he gave a big order for his usual brand, and his cigars disappeared once more with their accustomed celerity. From Thomas Alva Edison: Sixty Years of an Inventor's Life by Francis Arthur Jones