You may never have thought of this, but that grimey, smelly, and stained glass bong of yours sitting around in the garage wrapped up in a towel or something has a surprisingly rich history behind it. Bongs have been around for literally a couple thousand years, but no the first was most certainly not a glass bong.
The oldest ever excavated bongs are dated at about 2400 years old and were made of gold. They were discovered near modern day Iran, and before these the earliest known use of bongs was thought to have been between 1100-1400CE in an Ethiopian cave. These Ethiopian bongs were particularly interesting because some were connected to an underground sort of cooling system made of pottery, bones, and horns. Written records of the usage of bongs first showed up in Asia in the 16th century, and the origin of their name lies in the Thai word ‘buang’ which originally was the specific name of the Thai people’s bamboo version. Still, it would be a few more centuries before anyone had the idea of using glass for such a contraption. Glass eventually became a greatly admired material largely through the worldwide renown of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s glass creations. Only in the 1960’s, of course, did the glass bong come to fruition.
A man named Bob Snodgras used his glass-blowing techniques to create never before seen works of not just art, but functional, smokable art. His invention got tons of exposure from the perfect demographic as he followed the psychedelic band The Grateful Dead’s tours across all of America. Snodgras also, along with the help of his student Hugh Selkind, discovered a technique called ‘fuming’ to color his glass. He took on many students and apprentices and the industry became quite substantial until it suffered a big hit in 2003 from federal efforts to totally outlaw the sale of bongs. Thankfully, the industry survived and bounced right back, and is now thriving more than ever today!