The Great Flakes or the Grand Delusion

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Yadkin1765

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 28, 2022
120
477
Maine
I love me some flake, but am beginning to wonder if I've bought into them a little to much. Part of me thinks that flakes (and their brethren, cakes, ropes and coins) are popular (or more talked about) because, due to the added process, they are perceived as special, better, cooler, like Brando or James Dean. Flake reminds us of breakfast cereals, eatable, delicious. They recall to us wood chips, chunks or hunks of something larger. They are as appreciable as a well planed and square plank of wood. They are an object to appreciate, consider, inspect, hold, admire. They show a grain! Ribbon, on the other hand, ribbon is frilly, a melange, something a gal might tie her hair up with, reminiscent of a bow, something soft, prepared, indulgent, perhaps a bit hoity-toity. And rough cut, well, while nice enough, rough cut reminds us of floor scraps, unrefined processing, little care, &etc...

Now, I smoke all cuts of tobacco, but prefer a flake, or its progenitors, the cake (among other pressed and compressed forms). However, I tend towards flakes for the aforementioned reasons, and likely, because it is more involved, more ritualistic in its processes of preparation.

Now, to my questions, why is it that such a seeming majority of the most celebrated tobaccos are flakes? Is this because of some perceived superiority (that we've self marketed to ourselves)? Or is it just a better manner of processing the tobacco, aging it, continuing fermentation, marrying the flavors, and distributing?

And to the ultimate question at which all these thoughts point: what tobaccos, if any (not distributed in pressed form (including broken or general ready rubbed for that matter)) show great superiority to equivalent flakes? Or do they just not? For example, what VA of an alternative cut outshines all flakes and presumed equivalent of ropes, coins, or cakes? What about Englishes? &etc...

Of course all of this is a matter of personal taste, but I am curious all the same, even if all this is a bit tongue in cheek.
 
True. And this. Volume is often a consideration. Its astounding how much less space a flake takes.
Yeh, but that’s because it’s denser, and you end up smoking more weight per bowl because of the cut… so, yeh, more weight stored in a small space, but you don’t necessarily get more smokes from it… unless you rub the shit out if it, but even then you usually have thinner ribbon as a result… so it ends up being the same number of smokes as ribbon.
 

Yadkin1765

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 28, 2022
120
477
Maine
Yadkin, you're a good writer.
Thanks.

"because it’s denser, and you end up smoking more weight per bowl because of the cut…"

Also, never really thought about the density of what comprises a bowl pack. You definitely get a handful more smokes out of an equal weight tin of ribbon cut, though they may burn a bit more rapidly depending on moisture level.
 
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Yadkin1765

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 28, 2022
120
477
Maine
No one has yet to venture an example of a ribbon cut that is generally accepted as a better tobacco than a reasonably equivalent flake. Of course this is subject to personal tastes, but I am interested as there is some general consensus surrounding certain highly coveted tobaccos (seemingly more often flake). I have read reviews of some partial to things like ready rubbed to flake (in the case of St. Bruno), but my guess is the price point is a major aspect of this particular preference.

I suppose I should qualify: Aros don't really pertain.
 

vosBghos

Lifer
May 7, 2022
1,569
3,429
Idaho
No one has yet to venture an example of a ribbon cut that is generally accepted as a better tobacco than a reasonably equivalent flake. Of course this is subject to personal tastes, but I am interested as there is some general consensus surrounding certain highly coveted tobaccos (seemingly more often flake). I have read reviews of some partial to things like ready rubbed to flake (in the case of St. Bruno), but my guess is the price point is a major aspect of this particular preference.

I suppose I should qualify: Aros don't really pertain.
Everyone's got their thing.
For me, I would rather smoke an English/Balkan/Scottish (anything complex) blend in ribbon form as I like all the different leaves scattered for different notes as I go through the bowl.

With Va or Vaper, VaBurPer I like flakes or coins cause I can rub them out to my desired consistency and stuff and puff for a longer or shorter smoke depending on how broken up I go.

When it comes to quick smokes or windy smokes near or on the sea I prefer a shag cut, it lights easily can be packed light or tight depending on the length of the smoke desired, and the blends I get that are in shag form pack a lot of vitamin N.

When I want a transcendent smoke and need a buddy to help me out of my chair after puffing for an hour or more counting imaginary lightning bugs I reach for a rope.
 

Yadkin1765

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 28, 2022
120
477
Maine
When it comes to quick smokes or windy smokes near or on the sea I prefer a shag cut, it lights easily can be packed light or tight depending on the length of the smoke desired, and the blends I get that are in shag form pack a lot of vitamin N.
I live out on a chronically windy cape. I never thought of this practical benefit of a shag cut. I know there are a few out there, never probed them beyond roll-your-owns back in the day. What's your preferred brand of shag? I've been very interested in tasting some of the offerings of Tabac de la Semois. Ever try them?

I don't mind counting lightning bugs ever so often, so long as I'm not standing out on a bluff when they start to flicker and flash.
 

vosBghos

Lifer
May 7, 2022
1,569
3,429
Idaho
I live out on a chronically windy cape. I never thought of this practical benefit of a shag cut. I know there are a few out there, never probed them beyond roll-your-owns back in the day. What's your preferred brand of shag? I've been very interested in tasting some of the offerings of Tabac de la Semois. Ever try them?

I don't mind counting lightning bugs ever so often, so long as I'm not standing out on a bluff when they start to flicker and flash.
F&T Golden mixture for a bright VA I prefer it to the Gawith and Hoggarth Kendal Gold but the G&H is easier to come by. But all the G&H stuff, Kendal Dark, Kendal Kentucky, Kendal Mixed, is great it has a pinch of the sauce in it but I like it. The Semois shag is good a bit of an earthy floral taste. But my go-to is always Five Brothers Burley I do quite a bit of mixing with that one and the F&T and Kendal offerings. I must add an addendum to my last post whenever I'm below on a sea-faring vessel in keeping with traditions of the upper echelons of our elite forum the mornings coffee is paired with Blockade Runner and the after-dinner smoke is always Black Frigate lest I be thrown to the sharks as I am only a humble swab. Also, only Black Frigate is smoked in the dingy as that is the only cargo to be saved from a doomed ship...
 

SBC

Lifer
Oct 6, 2021
1,526
7,280
NE Wisconsin
No one has yet to venture an example of a ribbon cut that is generally accepted as a better tobacco than a reasonably equivalent flake.

Generally accepted? No. But, to this plebeian's taste, pre-2014 Wessex Classic Virginia (not to be confused with Wessex "Original," etc.) was as good as or better than any VA flake in existence. Around 2014 it changed from a straight red VA ribbon to a (very poor) lemon VaPer ribbon (so don't get excited by any tins you find for sale -- they're imposters).

Then again, I don't think that it was a ribbon in every respect -- I think that it began life as a plug, then was sliced and "ready rubbed" for sale. So, even here, time as a plug probably contributed to excellence.

Accumulated experience suggests that Virginia doesn't reach the fullness of its telos apart from time fermenting and marrying in plug form.

This may have begun as a mere practicality, but the mere practicality led to a discovery, and that discovery is confirmed by consensus on TR.