- Kevin Godbee
- Aug 7, 2012
- 1 min read
On July 20, we reported on some tobacco-growing problems in: Will 2012 Flash Drought & Heat Wave Affect Pipe Smokers? We were unable to reach Missouri Meerschaum, the original and only American manufacturer of Corn Cob Pipes for that article. Now, however, Pipes Magazine has spoken via telephone to Phil Morgan, the General Manager of Missouri Meerschaum.
Mr. Morgan tells Pipes Magazine that the growing season started out good with the early arrival of warm weather allowing for planting to begin sooner than usual. Unfortunately, good turned to bad with the arrival of the worst drought in 50-years, combined with a massive heat wave. For Missouri Meerschaum, the bigger problem is the heat wave. They are lucky that their fields are irrigated, which obviously helps, although the lack of rain is still a challenge. The extreme, unrelenting heat is actually cooking the plants from the top down. The pollen comes from the tassels at the top of the plant and falls onto the silk, which forms the kernels. The heat kills the pollen while it’s still in the tassels. It doesn’t fall to the silk, and kernels are not formed.
The impact for Corn Cob Pipes is that production will be cut in half for large pipes. Luckily, small pipe production will not be affected. This does create a loss in sales of tens of thousands of pipes, and much greater numbers when measured in dollars. It could have been worse though. According to Mr. Morgan; "Some farmers ended up with nothing."
Written by Kevin Godbee
View all posts by: Kevin Godbee
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- March 1, 2024 Marching Into Spring
February’s International Pipe-Smoking Day was more than just another moment of relaxation for Pundit. It took me back to a time in Paris when I was wandering somewhere around the 10th Arrondissement of that great city and happened upon a shop with a sign that read: Tabac. I had to go inside and look around and gaze at the goodies. Inside that delightful French pipe shop I had my first encounter with French pipes of any sort. Pundit was enamored of English pipes at the time and was dimly aware of much else. Let alone historic French-made. The shop owner walked us around his charming very French shop, flooding me with his broken English. My college French had lived beyond its best by date. The owner waltzed over to a counter and showed me a Chacom, of the famous Chacom and Comoy family of Saint-Claude, a small town in eastern France, which is the self-described “world capital of (the) pipe.” For good reason as it turns out. A billiard Chacom was purchased immediately. But now sadly, or perhaps inevitably, that particular Chacom pipe from the Paris Tabac shop has been lost to time. Who knows where or how it disappeared? Traded, perhaps? But the time in that tobacco shop was well spent. It was here that I learned something of Saint-Claude and its pipe history, foreign to me up to then. Never mind it was the birthplace of briar pipes. Yes, there are holes in Pundit’s knowledge of pipe history. Briar pipes were born in Saint-Claude, with Chacom. Giving the French pipe bragging rights as offspring originals of pipes we love today. It’s even more remarkable that we can still find pipes that have been seasoning in the historical air of Saint-Claude for years and purchase them at extraordinarily reasonable prices. Many pipe smokers are attracted to the history of pipes, Pundit included. And those made in Saint-Claude are some of the most genuine, historically relevant pipes that any enthusiast can enjoy. While roaming the “Ville lumière,” the City of Light, in the early 2000s, Pundit felt like a foot-loose expat in Paris, say of the 1920s. For Pundit it was something akin to hanging out with the original expats such as Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, and James Joyce, just to name a few of the Pundit’s favs. Naturally, a couple of these literary icons smoked pipes: Ezra Pound and James Joyce certainly. Hemingway—however, there are arguments on both sides of “did he or didn’t he?” smoke a pipe. Since Hem was a Pundit “code hero” I favor the “he did,” side of the question. Now before drawing any wild conclusions, this is no manner of imagination means to infer that Pundit is included in the writing circle of the above names. But you get the idea. The expats of the 1920s were singular. I suppose I became overawed when I discovered Hemingway’s Paris apartment and then later enjoyed dinner in the corner booth of the famous literary restaurant Les Deux Magots where Hem and wife Hadley had night-out repasts. You get the notion, I hope, that Paris was special. And the Tabac shop made it even more of an event of a lifetime. And if you need further reading on the birthplace of briar pipes, I suggest you check out Chuck Station in Pipe Line at SmokingPipes.com. His piece on the history of the Comoy and Chapuis pipe families is simply fascinating surrounding the advent of briar for pipes. And now, some pipe smokers of the past. Let’s start with Albert Einstein, the German-born master of theoretical physics. We think of Mr. E=MC2 as the greatest scientist of any generation. He was also famously known for smoking a pipe, mostly Revelation (of course) tobacco. Einstein was born March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany, and died April 18, 1955, in Princeton, N.J. By now you are familiar with Einstein’s famous quote about pipes. If not, here it is again: I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs. Next up is Vincent Willem van Gogh, a Dutch Post-Impressionist. In his masterful works, Van Gogh painted self-portraits of himself smoking his pipe. And you can find some shapes named for him in Ser Jacopo’s Picta Picasso Pipes. Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853, in Zundert, Netherlands, and died July 29, 1890, in France. The famed artist demonstrates how much he loved his pipes with this observation: To do good work one must eat well, be well housed, have one’s fling from time to time, smoke one’s pipe, and drink one’s coffee in peace—Vincent Van Gogh. And to finish with a bit of musical flair is Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer known for orchestral music such as the mighty Brandenburg Concertos. Bach was born March 31, 1685, in Eisenach, Germany, and died July 28, 1750. And as we enter the stretch run into spring, here is a parting shot from one of the most celebrated of pipe smokers: In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours—Mark Twain.
- February 27, 2024 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 598
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 598. Our featured interview tonight is with Steve “PipeStud” Fallon. Steve has one of the most popular consignment-auction businesses for estate pipes and vintage tobaccos that he’s been running since 2006. If you know Steve, you know he’s a big fan of the original Dunhill blend, Royal Yacht. The last time Steve was on the show was in 2020, so we’ll see what’s new with him, and the estate pipes and vintage tobaccos business. At the top of the show, Brian will discuss what to do with the tiny bits of tobacco at the bottom of the tin.
- February 20, 2024 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 597
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 597. Our interview on tonight’s show is with Charles Lemon. Charles does pipe repairs and restorations, and is the author of the new book, “Brigham Pipes, A Century Of Canadian Briar”. It tells the story of the first 100 years of Brigham pipes, and includes an extensive shape chart with actual photos of the pipes. The book lays out not only the chronology of Canada’s most prominent pipe-maker but also never before compiled information on the pipes themselves, including the stamps, grading schemes and pinning patterns used between 1906 and 2006. In Pipe Parts, Brian talks to Jeremy Reeves, the head blender at Cornell & Diehl about growing, curing, fermenting, and aging tobacco.
- February 13, 2024 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 596
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 596. Our interview on tonight’s show is with Tyler Edwards from Levoy’s Leathers. Tyler is a commercial truck driver from Amarillo, TX. When he is not driving, he follows his passion for making handmade leather goods. The leather pipe accessories include pipe cleaner holders, valet trays, and leather pipe socks. He also has wallets, drink coasters, and passport holders. They all look beautiful and are reasonably priced. At the top of the show, we will have a Pipes 101 segment to discuss long pipes which include three of Brian’s favorite shapes.
- February 12, 2024 Passionalization
“Don’t you have enough pipes? Why do you need another one?” It’s a fair question, though one I’m never happy to hear, especially when it’s coming from a voice in my own noggin. I mean, sure. I have enough pipes. More than enough. By any rational measure, probably far too many. But, pipe collecting isn’t about being rational. Pipe collecting is about passion. When a pipe speaks our name, calls to us through the mists, singing its siren song, how can we mere mortals resist? Unless we’d have to go without eating for a month, or risk losing the roof over our heads, why shouldn’t we buy “just one more?” Maybe the food thing wouldn’t be so bad (I could stand to lose a few pounds), but it’s the middle of winter. It’s been pouring rain for a week, and I’m pretty fond of having a place with a roof to keep me and my pipes dry. Maybe when the weather changes, I could forgo that luxury for a while too, if it meant answering the call when it came. Scratch that. That’s just silly. It is a fact that most of us really don’t need another pipe. Most of us probably don’t need as many as we have. No one needs more than a couple pairs of shoes, either, or a week’s worth of socks. Some laughingly refer to it as Pipe Acquisition Disorder (PAD), making it sound like some sort of affliction, worthy of inclusion in the next revision of the DSM and requiring some sort of therapy, or at least an intervention. I don’t. Even after all these years, and, I still find immense pleasure in the hunt for the next addition to the herd. Getting a new pipe just feels good and makes me happy, and that should be enough. Despite this, I do sometimes find myself going through fits of passionalization. There are times when a pipe acquisition hasn’t quite scratched the itch. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I spy the mad jumble of briars that I loosely refer to as my “collection.” There are many that continue to speak to me, and some have for many years, bringing me a great deal of pleasure when I look at them, hold them, smoke them. Some are pieces of profound artistry and beauty, others, simple, comforting objects of sublime utility. Either way, they’re sources of joy. Why wouldn’t I want another? But, there are more than a few that, instead, make me scratch my head. Confessing this isn’t easy, but there are pipes in my possession that I’ve acquired for entirely the wrong reasons. I have more than once been guilty of getting a pipe because of the “trendiness” of the shape or the maker, because I should like it, not because I do. I’ve smoked them, probably dozens of times, enduring the persistent voice in my head telling me all the reasons I should find it the best pipe ever, that one day, I’ll learn to understand it, acclimate to it, and become one with the kool kids. This rarely goes well. It turns out there’s little traction in getting a pipe in the hopes that one day it will ice pick its way up the ladder to the lofty status of being tolerated. Another side to every coin. There have been times I’ve not bought a pipe that I really liked because silly rationalizations planted themselves firmly in the middle of the road and wouldn’t let me pass. In the very early days of my collecting, a particular shape that I was very much drawn to, and still am, was looked down upon pretty much en masse by many veterans of the pipe community. Though there were a few outliers, and we did talk amongst ourselves about this peculiarity, the majority seemed to meet the shape with abject disdain. I don’t know why and will never understand it; the shape had been around for decades. Why would it continue to be in catalogues if so universally reviled? But, as a young, somewhat insecure newbie angling to be accepted by the old guard, I was afraid to put my own preference ahead of that of the taste-makers, and resisted the urge to acquire certain pipes for fear of having my membership blackballed. Ridiculous? For sure, but it felt pretty real to a pup trying to hang with the old dogs. (We’re lucky to live in more accepting times, I think.) There were times, too, I may have passed on a piece or ten because the brand/maker wasn’t à la mode. “Those pipes are nice looking, sure, but the briar is young and inferior, and they lack the pedigree of the maker having been around since before the Big War, and you’ll never be able to sell or trade it later. What you really want is something from Y. Now THAT’S a good pipe.” (Funnily enough, some of today’s desirable brands were yesterday’s pariahs, trading hands for relative peanuts because they weren’t from the grown-up firms. I wish I’d bought a bushel of them!) One fellow even told me that I should only chase pipes pre-1920 because, I’m not kidding, “The old vulcanite tastes better when it oxidizes than the modern stuff.” That was one tidbit I did not pay much mind to, though it was, and is amusing to think about. Don’t get me wrong; I learned a great deal from my early influences, and I’m grateful for every shred of knowledge they shared with me. Fortunately, now that I’ve become one of the old dogs, I’ve outgrown the need to impress anyone, and chase what I like solely because I like it, ignoring any real or projected judgment from the taste makers. Many good lessons have come along with the ride from there to here, along with, I admit, a whole lot of pipes, good and bad. Maybe, too many. I refuse to count them. Remember the mad jumble […]
- February 8, 2024 McCranie’s Roanoke Tobacco Review
The winter winds are really whipping at the windows here in the northeast, lashing out the last gasps of the season. Not the best weather for outdoor pipes, frankly. Luckily here I am, snuggled tight inside next to a purring cat and a cozy heater, with a mug of warm chai, a book filled with adventures in tropical realms, and a pipe full of the taste of warmer climes. This month the particular blend in question is McCranie’s Roanoke, a delicious two-ounce serving of summertime-in-a-jar. A tobacco house patterned after the classics, McCranie’s is well known locally to Charlottians, and to pipe tobacco aficionados the world over. From its humble beginning as an Edward’s franchise back in 1979, its current incarnation is led by its third-generation namesake Matthew McCranie, who was interviewed by our very own Brian Levine on the PipesMagazine.com radio show not too long ago. (Interview here.) Ask any veteran piper about McCranie’s Red Ribbon or Red Flake and they’ll likely get a wistful, far-away look in their eye as they recall the singular nature of those monumental marques that will unfortunately never be repeated. The McCranie’s story is intricately tied to the McClelland story. McCranie’s landmark blends Red Ribbon and Red Flake, which showcased exceptional single-crop, single-year, local Carolina offerings, were processed and tinned by McClelland, and with the passing of that blending house a vacuum was created that was felt far and wide across the tobacco world. Not to be deterred, Matt McCranie dusted off the family blending cap and set about sourcing leaf and creating a whole new legacy for the brand. So it was that while shopping for review blends I navigated to the McCranie’s website and decided to sample some of their new offerings—and am I ever glad that I did. As I get older I find that it sometimes takes a more conscious effort to break out of habit and routine; I’ve hoarded plenty of Red Ribbon and Flake tins in my own cellar, yet had only tried one other of McCranie’s offerings, the also-erstwhile Murdock’s Pipe (a delightful blend, but not to my general preference). Well, it was high time to rectify that situation. The first thing of note is the presentation: McCranie’s own-label blends are now being offered in glass jars holding a full two ounces of leaf. As a matter of course I generally buy tobacco with the intent to set the majority of it aside to age while I whittle my way through a tin or two, and stocking up with glass jars makes me feel better about that investment in future enjoyments. The jar itself sports a simple label bearing the McCranie’s logo, the name of the blend, and a portion of the William James Linton engraving The Lost Colony, referencing the famous lost colony of Roanoke located in Dare County, on the Outer Banks. From the website we find the description of the blend: McCranie’s Roanoke is a rich and complex blend made of Red, Gold, and Dark Virginias with a helping of Louisiana Perique, perfect for Virginia Perique lovers. The Red Virginia provides a sweet and tangy flavor that complements the bold and spicy notes of the Perique. It’s a tobacco meant to be savored slowly to fully appreciate the flavors that develop throughout the bowl. Simplicity is what McCranie’s does best, and Roanoke is a perfect example of that simplicity in all its glory: a Virginia-Perique blend par excellence. Unscrewing the lid releases a burst of a sweet, tart bouquet that immediately carves out its own place in the genre. Top notes of raspberry jam and buttered toast hint of the tobacco’s sugary richness, and are a tantalizing departure from the more common lemony complexion of most VaPer blends. Some airing time brings mid-tones of driftwood and clay soil—a natural allusion to its namesake—along with more typical VaPer notes of mulled wine, ketchup, stone fruit, milk chocolate, and leather, along with the telltale nose-tingling that accompanies a healthy portion of Perique. The leaf still feels a little young at times, with the tiniest of edges and errant notes on occasion—this does, however, bode well for its future in the cellar, and did not intrude on the smoking experience negatively. The supple, chocolatey ribbons come at a perfect humidity for packing directly or allowing a short drying time, and the jar keeps a clear concentration of the aromas contained like a brandy snifter, without the cardboard or paper wrapper in tins that can color the aromas, if ever so slightly. In the bowl, Roanoke is a midwinter’s dream. Smoking lightly and effortlessly despite its obvious richness and youth, the first ounce disappeared within a week, before I’d even finished my tasting notes. It’s an easy one to recommend as an all-day blend—my own smoking habit has decreased significantly in the past several years and leaves me readily susceptible to a too-sharp Virginia tongue bite, but this never even nipped at the edges. On the contrary, it delivered a rich and colorful smoke bowl after bowl in the same pipe, with a flat-cola mouthfeel and aftertaste better than any blend in recent memory; I’d place it alongside an aged Escudo or Sunday Picnic in a heartbeat. The Perique component is at a good amount, alluringly drawing out the complementary flavors of the variety of Virginias employed and providing a finely nuanced cohesion to the overall. Repeated rations in the same pipe were never an issue, and in fact seemed to improve the flavor of each subsequent helping. For all its flavor it’s notably mild in nicotine, and the room note, though it lacks the richness of the direct smoke, casts a pleasant afterglow that doesn’t linger overlong. This blend certainly tells me that McCranie’s is still a name that carries its weight in the pipe world. Not many tobaccos make me want to plan a pilgrimage to their source. (I wonder what the airfare to Charlotte is this time of year…?) Also a blessing and a curse […]