Since the beginnings of colonial America, long before the creation of the United States, tobacco, almost entirely on its own, fueled the colonization of New England. The notion that "America was built on tobacco" is quite accurate; and the initial colonial expansion, fueled by the desire to increase tobacco production, caused the first colonial conflicts with Native Americans, and also soon led to the use of African slaves for cheap labor.
Until 1883, tobacco excise tax accounted for one third of internal revenue collected by the United States government.
Fire-cured smoking tobacco is a robust variety of tobacco used as a condimental for pipe blends. It is cured by smoking over gentle fires. In the United States, it is grown in the western part of Tennessee, Western Kentucky and in Virginia. Latakia is a produced from oriental varieties of N. tabacum. The leaves are cured and smoked over smoldering fires of local hardwoods and aromatic shrubs in Cyprus and Syria. Latakia has a pronounced flavor and a very distinctive aroma, and is used in the so-called Balkan and English-style pipe tobacco blends.
Fire-cured tobacco grown in Kentucky and Tennessee is used in some chewing tobaccos, moist snuff, some cigarettes and as a condiment leaf in pipe tobacco blends. It has a rich, slightly floral taste, and adds body and aroma to the blend.
Prior to the American Civil War, the tobacco grown in the US was almost entirely fire-cured dark-leaf. This was planted in fertile lowlands, used a robust variety of leaf, and was fire cured or air cured.
Sometime after the War of 1812, demand for a milder, lighter, more aromatic tobacco arose. Ohio and Maryland both innovated quite a bit with milder varieties of the tobacco plant. Farmers around the country experimented with different curing processes. But the breakthrough didn't come until 1854.
It had been noticed for centuries that sandy, highland soil produced thinner, weaker plants. Abisha Slade, of Caswell County, North Carolina had a good deal of infertile, sandy soil, and planted the new "gold-leaf" varieties on it. When Stephen, Abisha's slave, used charcoal instead of wood to cure the crop, the first real "bright" tobacco was produced.
News spread through the area pretty quickly. The worthless sandy soil of the Appalachian piedmont was suddenly profitable, and people rapidly developed flue-curing techniques, a more efficient way of smoke-free curing. By the outbreak of the War, the town of Danville, Virginia actually had developed a bright-leaf market for the surrounding area in Caswell County, North Carolina and Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Danville was also the main railway head for Confederate soldiers going to the front. These brought bright tobacco with them from Danville to the lines, traded it with each other and Union soldiers, and developed quite a taste for it. At the end of the war, the soldiers went home and suddenly there was a national market for the local crop. Caswell and Pittsylvania counties were the only two counties in the South that experienced an increase in total wealth after the war.
In 1864, George Webb of Brown County, Ohio planted Red Burley seeds he had purchased, and found that a few of the seedlings had a whitish, sickly look. He transplanted them to the fields anyway, where they grew into mature plants but retained their light color. The cured leaves had an exceedingly fine texture and were exhibited as a curiosity at the market in Cincinnati. The following year he planted ten acres (40,000 m²) from seeds from those plants, which brought a premium at auction. The air-cured leaf was found to be mild tasting and more absorbant than any other variety. It thus became the main component in chewing tobacco, American blend pipe tobacco, and American-style cigarettes.
In contrast, perhaps the most strongly-flavoured of all tobaccos is the Perique, from Saint James Parish, Louisiana. When the Acadians made their way into this region in 1776, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes were cultivating a variety of tobacco with a distinctive flavour. A farmer called Pierre Chenet is credited with first turning this local tobacco into the Perique in 1824 through the technique of pressure-fermentation.
The tobacco plants are manually kept suckerless, and pruned to exactly 12 leaves, through their early growth. In late June, when the leaves are a dark, rich green and the plants are 24-30 inches (600 to 750 mm) tall, the whole plant is harvested in the late evening and hung to dry in a sideless curing barn. Once the leaves have partially dried, but while still supple (usually less than 2 weeks in the barn), any remaining dirt is removed and the leaves are moistened with water and stemmed by hand. The leaves are then rolled into "torquettes" of approximately 1 pound (450 g) and packed into hickory whiskey barrels. The tobacco is then kept under pressure using oak blocks and massive screw jacks, forcing nearly all the air out of the still-moist leaves. Approximately once a month, the pressure is released, and each of the torquettes is "worked" by hand to permit a little air back into the tobacco. After a year of this treatment, the Perique is ready for consumption, although it may be kept fresh under pressure for many years. Extended exposure to air degrades the particular character of the Perique. The finished tobacco is dark brown, nearly black, very moist with a fruity, slightly vinegary aroma.
Considered the truffle of pipe tobaccos, the Perique is used as a component of many blended pipe tobaccos, but is too strong to be smoked pure. At one time, the freshly moist Perique was also chewed, but none is now sold for this purpose. Less than 16 acres (65,000 m²) of this crop remain in cultivation, most by a single farmer called Percy Martin, in Grande Pointe, Louisiana. For reasons unknown, the particular flavour and character of the Perique can only be acquired on a small triangle of Saint James Parish, less than 3 by 10 miles (5 by 16 km). Although at its peak, Saint James Parish was producing around 20 tons of the Perique a year, output is now only a few barrelsful.
While traditionally a pipe tobacco (and still available from some specialist tobacconists), the Perique may now also be found in the Perique cigarettes of Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., in an approximately 1 part to 5 blend with lighter tobaccos. A similar tobacco, based on pressure-fermented Kentucky tobacco is available by the name Acadian Green River Perique.
Some it chew, Some it smoke, Some it up the nose do poke!
Snuff is a generic term for fine-ground smokeless tobacco products. Originally the term referred only to dry snuff, a fine tan dust popular mainly in the eighteenth century. This is often called "Scotch Snuff", a folk-etymology derivation of the scorching process used to dry the cured tobacco by the factor.
European snuff is intended to be snorted up the nose, and is often scented or mentholated. American snuff is much stronger, and is intended to be dipped. It comes in two varieties -- "sweet" and "salty", and popular brands are Tube Rose and Levi Garrett. Until the early 20th century, snuff dipping was popular in the United States among rural people, who would often use sweet barkless twigs to apply it to their gums.
The second, and more popular, variety of snuff is moist snuff. This is occasionally referred to as "snoose" derived from the Scandinavian word for snuff, "snus". Like the word, the origins of moist snuff are Scandinavian, and the oldest American brands indicate that by their names. American Moist snuff is made from dark fire-cured tobacco that is ground, sweetened, and aged by the factor. Swedish snus is different in that it is made from steam-cured tobacco, rather than fire-cured, and its health effects are markedly different, with studies showing dramatically lower rates of cancer and other tobacco-related health problems than cigarettes, American "Chewing Tobacco", Indian Gutka or African varieties. Prominent North American brands are Copenhagen, Skoal, and Kodiak. Prominent Swedish brands are Swedish Match, Ettan, and Tre Ankare. American moist snuff tends to be dipped.
In the Scandinavian countries, moist snuff come either in loose powder form or powder packaged in small bags, suitable for placing inside the upper lip. In the case of the unpackaged form, the snus will be baked and pressed into a small ball or ovoid either by hand or by use of a special tool. Prepackaded snuff is therefore called "portion snuff", whereas the loose powder variant is called "baking snuff".
Chewing is one of the oldest ways of consuming tobacco leaves. Native Americans in both North and South America chewed the leaves of the plant, frequently mixed with lime. Modern chewing tobacco is produced in three forms: twist, plug, and scrap.
Twist is the oldest form. One to three high-quality leaves are braided and twisted into a rope while green, and then are cured in the same manner as other tobacco. Until recently this was done by farmers for their personal consumption in addition to other tobacco intended for sale. Modern twist is occasionally lightly sweetened. It is still sold commercially, but rarely seen outside of Appalachia. Popular brands are Mammoth Cave, Moore's Red Leaf, and Cumberland Gap. Users cut a piece off the twist and chew it, expectorating.
Plug chewing tobacco is made by pressing together cured tobacco leaves in a sweet (often molasses-based) syrup. Originally this was done by hand, but since the second half of the 19th century leaves were pressed between large tin sheets. The resulting sheet of tobacco is cut into plugs. Like twist, consumers cut a piece off of the plug to chew. Major brands are Day's Work and Cannonball.
Scrap, or looseleaf chewing tobacco, was originally the excess of plug manufacturing. It is sweetened like plug tobacco, but sold loose in bags rather than a plug. Looseleaf is by far the most popular form of chewing tobacco. Popular brands are Red Man, Beechnut, and Mail Pouch. Looseleaf chewing tobacco can also be dipped.
Gutka is a confection-like tobacco product manufactured and used mainly in India. It contains sweeteners and flavorings and is marketed to children. It is used by placing it between one's cheek and gums.
de:Tabak fr:tabac ja:タバコ nl:tabak pl:Tytoń sv:tobak