History of the Cigar
The history of the cigar is an interesting and complex one. The famous explorer, Christopher Columbus, is generally credited with the introduction of tobacco into Europe. During his travels to Hispaniola, Columbus and his crew were presented with peculiar leaves that had an interesting fragrance. At this time, natives throughout the entire Caribbean commonly used tobacco. It was reported that a particular indigenous tribe, the Tainos, smoked a primitive form of the cigar, which consisted of tobacco leaves wrapped and twisted inside of other leaves. As the European sailors began to mimic the habit, the smoking of tobacco spread to Spain, then Portugal, and finally, France. By the mid 1500’s, smoking tobacco in pipes had become particularly common amongst all levels of society. By the early 1800’s, the practice of smoking cigars had become common.
In the 1860’s a man named Vicente Martinez Ybor established a factory in Tampa, Florida that became one of the most prestigious manufacturers of cigars in the United States. In New York, cigar rollers, who worked in their own apartments, created cigars. As of 1883, there were a reported 127 apartment businesses in operation. Combined, these apartment businesses employed over 7,900 individuals. By 1905, statistics, concerning the history of the cigar, state that there were over 80,000 cigar-making businesses in the United States. Most modern cigars, which primarily are imported from Central America and Cuba, are still created by hand. Boxes of these cigars will commonly be marked with the Spanish phrase, totalmente a mano, which translate to “totally made by hand”.
In the history of the cigar, there are numerous, interesting individuals who have employed their use. For example, Ulysses S. Grant smoked a reported twelve cigars a day. He remains the only U.S. president to die from cancer. Winston Churchill is often credited with the invention of the practice of dipping a cigar into a glass of port wine or brandy. Other well known cigar smokers from history include Groucho Marx, Mark Twain, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill Cosby. In the United States, the smoking of a young man’s first cigar is considered to be a rite of passage. In the mid 1990’s, cigar smoking encountered a resurgence of popularity; however, in the haste of suppliers to meet the general demand, the quality of these cigars was compromised. Although the history of the cigar is an interesting one, true aficionados of cigars enjoy them for their array of complexity and flavors.