Who doesn’t love a good cigar? Whether you like them for social gatherings, as a hobby, or just because they taste great. There’s no denying that cigars are one of the most popular and enjoyable pastimes in America today. But how much do we really know about this centuries-old tradition?
Here are thirty-three interesting fun facts about cigars to get your mind going:
1. Tobacco seeds are tiny in size but require a lot of care.
Tobacco plants are primarily grown in the tropics. They require a lot of work on the part of a grower. Every year, the tobacco plant must be planted, taken care of, harvested, and cured. These tasks rank Tobacco as one of the most labor-intensive crops to grow.
2. Cigars used to be prizes at fairs.
Believe it or not, the phrase “close but no cigar” actually has an interesting origin. In years gone by, it may have been coined by carnival workers who handed out cigars as prizes for games at local fairs! These days many people would be outraged if they won a cigar instead of that oh-so-coveted teddy bear on display near the ring toss booth.
For many hundreds of years, cigars have been synonymous with the working-class man. Cigars are associated with hard work and manual labor. But for several decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cigar-smoking was considered a leisurely pursuit that only the rich could enjoy. And, to prove their wealth and leisure status, affluent cigar smokers used to show off by giving cigars as fairground prizes.
3. An oxygen mask was created for smoking cigars while flying.
Winston Churchill was known to love cigars and knew it would be difficult for him to stop smoking before his first flight at higher altitudes. To prepare, he ordered the creation of an oxygen mask that would accommodate cigar smoking so he could smoke on his voyage as well!
4. Cigars are created when Tobacco is rolled into thin sheets called “blades.”
To create a cigar, tobacco leaves are harvested and cut. The leaves are then hung up to dry at the factory, where they will be processed. After drying, the tobacco blades are much thinner than regular tobacco leaves — must be carefully prepared to ensure the cigar will burn evenly.
5. Christopher Columbus Introduced Cuban Tobacco to the Western World
Christopher Columbus was devastated when he first landed on the island known today as Cuba. He had been expecting to find treasure, not a bunch of savage locals and weird Tobacco they called Cohiba! Fortunately for cigar lovers everywhere, those savages showed him how to smoke that strange stuff we call Tobacco to get some relief from his disappointment.
6. No Smoking in the White House
When an American pilot who was shot down in Bosnia was rescued, Bill Clinton lit up and enjoyed a Romeo Y Julieta cigar in the White House. In doing so, he broke Hilary- his wife’s no-smoking rule!
7. There’s a unique job title for cigar makers.
A highly skilled cigar roller is referred to as a torcedor, with them able to produce at least 200 cigars a day!
8. Fermenting Tobacco Requires High Humidity Levels
Cigars are made of fermented tobacco leaves that must be at an optimal humidity level to roll. This is because the taste and aroma come from this process, which varies depending on the type of cigar – whether it’s a corona or Robusto, for example.
The fermentation levels of your favorite cigars need to reach around 80-95% before rolling can start, so they’re ready when you buy them!
9. Fidel Castro Was Targeted With Poisoned Cigars
The CIA was given instructions to use their medical services team in 1961 by the U.S Government, who wanted a plan for killing Fidel Castro through his cigars.
The Cigar-Gate operation fell apart when it became clear that he knew what had been planned and said publicly about finding tasting notes of leather and gorgonzola!
10. Humidors Are a Must
A cigar humidor uses Spanish cedar, which is kiln-dried to stop the bleeding of sap. An adequately conditioned cigar can age for a lifetime and develop into something glorious when kept in optimum conditions.
11. Cigars get their name from the Mayans.
The word cigar comes from the Spanish word cigarro, most likely stemming from a Mayan root, sicar. The original meaning of this term was “to smoke rolled tobacco leaves.”
12. Cigars were the first-ever global trade good.
Ships would sail from Spain through the New World of America (cue waving American flag and loud national anthem music). The ships returned to Europe loaded with a variety of goods. Tobacco was one of these goods.
13. Cigar Smoking is the National Pastime in Cuba
In Cuba, cigar smoking is a hotly debated topic. A professional sport is dedicated to smoking cigars called la Fabrica de Los puros: the cigar trade.
14. Cigars are sometimes the same size as cigarettes.
The terms you’ll hear used for this cigar size are mini, small, petit, cigarillo (which is the same as saying short panatela), demi-tasse. But don’t worry!
They may not all be technically exactly the same thing but they’re close enough to give us an idea of what we’re looking at when asked about smaller cigars like these ones which can come in handy especially if there isn’t much time on your hands and yet you still want that premium experience – so keep it with ya next time someone asks “do have any shorter smokes?
15. Cigar smoking is addictive.
It takes about three cigars to get addicted. That means you have two left! It’s recommended that after becoming hooked on premium cigars, you should slowly stop. If you suddenly cut back on your smoking habits, it might lead to tobacco withdrawal syndrome, which could be life-threatening.
16. Roman Catholic missionaries helped to increase the popularity of smoking cigars by giving out tobacco seeds.
From Cuba to the rest of the world, these seeds were given out so that people could have a consistent supply of Tobacco. (This is when The Pope got all over-protective about plucking herbs from their native lands and planting them elsewhere. If you want to grow something on your own land, you should be able to do it.)
17. The first Spanish cigar company was established in Cuba.
The first independent cigar brand established in Cuba was Cabañas. Founded by Francisco Cabañas in 1797, the company lasted until 1962 and then it was discontinued after being nationalized by the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro.”
18. Cigars can make you more creative.
Legendary writer Mark Twain used to smoke 300 cigars a month. Then he quit the habit, which led him to suffer from writer’s block for three months. Once he resumed his cigar-smoking habit, it only took him 3 months to write another book!
19. Cigar smoking isn’t as bad as smoking cigarettes.
We’re not sarcastic here: According to the American Cancer Society, cigars don’t contain anywhere near the number of toxic ingredients found in cigarettes, which means that you can enjoy the same level of nicotine without worrying about the adverse side effects as much.
But don’t get too happy. According to the Americal Lung Association, Those who smoke cigars heavily or inhale deeply also increase their risk of developing lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
Secondhand smoke from cigars can cause or contribute to lung cancer and heart disease.
Everything in moderation though right?
20. Perfect cigars are rare!
Cigar Aficionado rarely awards 100-point scores to cigars.
The only two cigars that have ever earned a perfect score of 100 are The Dunhill Estupendo and The H. Upmann Dunhill Sellecion Suprema No. 222.
21. A cigar can burn for more than 1 hour!
They call it puffing on a cigar when you are smoking one, so yes, you do puff on a cigar and not light it up or smoke it. Cigars can burn anywhere from 40-1 hour depending on the size of the cigar, type of tobacco blend, and how far down you’ve lit it. That’s a long time to hold something in your mouth!
22. There are many ways to smoke a cigar.
While we’re all familiar with just lighting up a stogie and puffing away, other smoking methods cater specifically to cigar smokers.
The old-fashioned way of lighting up your stogie was to use a match, and that’s the method most people picture when they think about someone smoking a cigar. Some other lighting methods include using a lighter, using kitchen matches, or even flicking the ash on a stovetop!
Read our recent blog post “Cigar Smoking 101” to learn the ways that you can smoke your favorite cigar.
23. Throughout history, many believed cigars had medicinal qualities. However, other individuals considered cigars evil.
This is believed to have come about during the Victorian Era because of a misinterpretation of the translation of some European texts from the 1600s. This demonic association doesn’t stop there, though! In Germany and France, it’s a tradition for people to kiss when passing around stogies. Although it is said to be a custom derived from the Middle Ages, it is related to an old English superstition that states that it’s unlucky for two people who have not kissed before to pass something between them.
24. There are several cigar-smoking competitions across the globe.
The most popular of these competitions is the Sommelier Championship, which was first held in 1995. The competition takes place in France, and it pits cigar smokers against each other to see who can smoke the longest without swallowing or inhaling any tobacco.
Other competitions include the Best Blender contest, an annual event during the Cigar Expo Week in Havana, Cuba. This competition pits top cigar-makers against each other to see who can roll the best cigar in a set amount of time.
25. There is a small country wedged between Argentina and Chile named for its Tobacco and cigars.
Called Las Antillas, this tiny nation has only 30 square miles of land, making it about Washington, D.C. This little country is more than just a cigar haven, though! In fact, it is named after tobacco fields that were found there during the 16th century.
Because of Las Antillas, a similar-sized area in Nicaragua was renamed Santiago de los Caballeros – “Saint James of the Knights” – to avoid confusion between the two regions.
26. The first United States-based cigar company was founded in 1820 under the name Connecticut Broadleaf.
At the time, Connecticut was the only place in the country where it was possible to produce tobacco plants. This company specialized in cigar wrappers for pharmaceutical companies and later started making cigars out of locally grown Tobacco by 1823!
During World War II, a shortage of raw materials caused an increase in Cuban cigar production.
To meet the demand, tobacco growers and producers in Cuba were forced to find new ways of cutting costs. As a result, many cigars from this time are called “weeds” because they were made out of cheaper tobacco scraps discarded by the farmers who grew them.
This is one reason why Cuban cigars from this period tend to have an inferior taste. At the time, it was more important to make cigars quickly than to make them of high quality!
27. Cigar smoking has always been a man’s world. However, women have always enjoyed smoking cigars – just as much as men, if not more!
The first woman cigar smoker wasn’t even a real woman – it was the fictional character, Margarita, in Christopher Columbus’ story about his travels across the globe.
28. By the late early 1900s, more than 10,000 cigar companies were operating in the United States.
Most of these companies were located in New York City and Tampa, Florida. They specialized in producing cigarettes, cigars, chewing Tobacco, snuff, and pipe tobaccos. Between them all, they made more than 1 billion pounds of tobacco products each year!
19. In the 1800s, it was very common for men to smoke cigars with a cup of coffee after dinner.
Most people who did this also carried cigar accessories with them, such as an ashtray or lighter. However, this wasn’t the only reason that they had these items in their pockets! In fact, most men kept a razor blade handy in case they needed to slice off some loose tobacco!
When the stock market crashed in 1929, many people jumped out windows when it became clear that there was no hope left for their investments. This event is called the Wall Street Crash, and it’s considered one of the worst crashes in American history.
Some of those who jumped out of their offices were carrying cigars with them! After all, it may have been the last time that they were able to afford one.
They chose death by jumping over death by an economic collapse – and many of them did so with a cigar in their mouths.
30. Did you know that cigars are commonly used as a type of currency?
In certain parts of Africa, it’s not uncommon for people to offer their business partners – or even new acquaintances – a cigar as soon as they meet. This, of course, serves as an ice breaker and is often considered to be very respectful.
Rather than accepting the offering, though, many people will bite off the cigar’s tip and hand the rest back to their partner. This indicates that they’re interested in doing business together but don’t want to accept the cigar as a gift.
If two people like each other enough after exchanging cigars, they’ll often be given gifts of cigars by their new friends. These second-time-around gifts are typically much better than the original gift – and they can also be a symbol of friendship and trust.
This is one reason why cigars have become such an essential part of business culture! It’s more common now than it was a century ago, but it’s still considered to be a very respectable way to begin negotiations with a new client or partner.
31. When Cuban cigar companies were struggling during the early 1900s, they found a way to make as many cigars as possible – by using their own tobacco scraps.
Due to the pristine quality of these scraps, the Cuban government allowed them to be classified as “superior leaves,” and they were labeled accordingly. This meant that they could be sold at extremely low prices, and people who weren’t used to smoking cigars could afford them.
32. While smoking cigars during 1800 was common, cigarette smoking was rare.
Many women who smoked cigarettes were deemed to be prostitutes. Cigarettes weren’t very popular!
However, this slowly began to change during the early 1900s when a new cigarette style emerged from London. These cigarettes – called “King Size” cigarettes – featured longer filters than other brands and extremely high-quality Tobacco.
This new cigarette design appealed to the masses, and soon smoking cigarettes became popular in the United States and other western countries.
33. Flavored Cigars are Banned In Some Areas
Many local jurisdictions have taken action to restrict or prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including cigars. This method of tobacco control is aimed towards limiting the access of tobacco products to youth.
Cigars have been around for centuries and will continue to be a popular pastime in America. We at Screaming Eagle Cigars hope that you found this list of 10 interesting cigar facts informative and entertaining.
If you need help finding the perfect cigar, we’re here!
Browse our online store, where you can find over 500 cigar brands with an extensive range of options for all tastes, budgets, occasions, and smoking styles – from beginner’s first sticks to premium brands sought after by the most discerning cigar aficionado.