From Winston Churchill’s classic cigars to the infamous Cuban cigar, there are many unusual stories behind this everyday item. With the United States opening up tourism routes with Cuba, the poplar Cuban cigar could soon gain prominence again. Learn nine facts that you did not know about cigars by reading on.
1. Ulysses S. Grant Loved Cigars
Former President Ulysses S. Grant was known for his cigar habit. He smoked 7 to 10 cigars every day. While some of these cigars were chewed on instead of smoked, Grant was a true cigar aficionado. When a reporter wrote about his love of cigars, the American people sent him over 20,000 cigars as a gift. This may be part of the reason why he ended up developing throat cancer later in life.
2. You Can Get Cigars from Cuba, But Not That Many
With trade opening up with Cuba, Americans can now bring back up to $100 of tobacco or alcohol from the communist nation. Unfortunately, $100 does not buy very many good cigars. A high-quality Uppman or Cohibas cigar will set you back at least $25 each, so you would only be able to bring back four of them at most.
3. Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic Have the Best
While Cuban cigars have been known as the best cigar for years, this is not the case anymore. In a recent survey by the University of Miami, Latin American smokers listed Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic as the best cigar to smoke. Cuban cigars are still excellent, but these other nations have made great strides to produce a better quality of product.
4. Winston Churchill Loved Cigars
Churchill knew that smoking a cigar could project a powerful image. While he often smoked Cuban cigars, he was a fan of cheaper American cigars like Longfellow and Royal Derby. In 1940, the President of Cuba gave Churchill a gift of 2,400 cigars. With the state of diplomacy at the time, each cigar had to be tested for poison before Churchill was allowed to smoke it.
5. Groucho Marx Rarely Lit His Cigars
While Groucho Marx was known for carrying a Cuban cigar in his mouth while acting, it was normally unlit. Marx did not want to smoke all day while making the film. Plus, the director would have to try to match the cigar’s length in future takes if it had been smoked. For Marx and his directors, it was just easier to use an unlit cigar.
6. Cigars Still Cause Cancer
In the 1960s, researchers and public health officials once said that cigars were less likely to cause cancer than cigarettes. Because of this, many cigarette smokers switched over to cigars. Unfortunately, the studies conducted to show this were deeply flawed. In reality, regular cigar smoking increases the chance of getting cancers of the oral cavity, lung, larynx and esophagus. Heavy cigar smokers who breathe deeply when smoking are more like to have coronary heart disease and lung diseases.
7. Cigar Companies Still Have Readers
According to Pine Cigars, Cuban cigar factories were known for having readers who read aloud for the workers in the factory. Today, this tradition continues. While many readers focus on the official press, popular fiction and radio-novelas are also used.
8. You Can Easily Check for Fakes
If you are worried about getting a fake Cuban cigar, all you need to do is check the packaging. Handmade Cuban cigars are marked with the phrase, “Totalmente a Mano.” The package should always say “Habanos S.A., Hecho En Cuba.” Below this, there should be a code for the cigar’s factory and the date when the cigars were packed. If the product is counterfeit, it will be missing one of these phrases or stamps.
9. Fidel Castro Quit Smoking
It seems odd for an island that is known for cigars to have a leader who abstains. Fidel Castro used to love Cohibas cigars, and he handed them out to foreign visitors. Originally, these cigars were made by a soldier of Castro’s who once worked as a cigarmaker. Castro loved the flavor and reserved them for personal use. Before long, he was sharing the Cohibas cigars with friends, foreign visitors and heads of state. Despite his early love of cigars, Castro quit smoking several decades ago.