The History of Cigars

Everyone knows about Christopher Columbus sailing the ocean blue and the “discovery” of the New World, but it is often forgotten that he also “discovered” cigars. Or rather his point men Rodrigo de Xeres and Luis de Torres did when they became the first Europeans on record to see cigars in action. Time and time again, the intrepid explorers encountered various forms of cigar smoking throughout the Caribbean. The process they observed included tobacco leaves rolled up and stuffed into corn husks or palm leaves that were smoked through the nose! Cigars have indeed come along way.

Interestingly enough, our friend Rodrigo was not done. Back home in Spain he demonstrated to the masses how to properly enjoy a cigar. Unfortunately for Rodrigo, these were the days of the Spanish Inquisition and they didn’t take kindly to a civilized man frightening the public while enjoying the weed of heathens. Declared an act of heresy, Rodrigo’s “Cigarro” puffing garnered him seven years in prison, what some believe was the first anti-smoking law conviction. While Rodrigo pined away in his cell, tobacco use became an exclusive pleasure to the Iberian Peninsula, as Spain and Portugal began to build a hefty business around tobacco, in spite of the Inquisition’s outcry.

Over the years visiting foreign dignitaries, who were presented with various forms of tobacco, and sailors trading in foreign ports eventually helped tobacco make its way to France, England and even Russia, where Catherine the Great, Tsarina of Russia became an avid cigar aficionado. In fact it is to her that cigar lore attributes the emergence of the cigar band, as she had silk ribbons placed around her cigars so as not to soil her gloves. Whether fact or fiction, it is certain that the pleasures of tobacco (and the money it brought) were no longer merely royal indulgences and before long the Dutch East India Company, Sir Walter Raleigh and a host of others would help the proliferation of tobacco around the World, creating one of the most lucrative commodities in all of history. So lucrative, in fact, a new nation would be born upon its shoulders, the United States of America.

Modern researchers now believe that tobacco use in the Americas dates back more than 2,000 years, further carving out the legendary place of cigars in history. Whether it be Dutchman Gustave Bock of the 1830s who some believe was the first to use cigar bands as a marketing tool or it be Oscar Hammerstein (grandfather of Oscar Hammerstein II of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals fame) who patented improvements to cigar making machines further leading to the great boom in cigar industrialization and manufacturing, cigars are undeniably interwoven into our past. And from Rodrigo Jerez’s Caribbean adventures to the stunning effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis and beyond, cigars have become a deeply engrained part of our heritage that continue to be present at all of life’s great moments both large and small.

So sit back and relax with one of life’s greatest pleasures and ponder the words of cigar enthusiast extraordinaire Mark Twain who said: “Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man's enjoyment of his cigar.”

Find This Helpful? Please Share and Spread the Joy of Cigars With the World!