The Great Flakes or the Grand Delusion

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Jul 26, 2021
2,208
9,033
Metro-Detroit
There is no coolness in shag world.
Five Brothers begs to differ.

Like a rockstar, some tobaccos want to be Five Brothers (I'm looking at you Irish Flake, trying to act all stout), while other tobaccos want to be with it (I'm looking at you aromatics, which embrace the strength of Five Brothers in a flavorful parfait with depth and desire).

Smoke some Five Brothers and your chest hair will become thicker and curlier, emulating the shag cut you just smoked in the sincerest form of flattery. Inadvertently inhale it and your beard will.grow instantaneously while coughing to the point where those who can't grow beards will have a 5 o'clock shadow (which was undoubtedly named after Five Brothers).

So next time someone tells you shags are uncool, tell them to hide their wives and children, pull out a pouch of Five Brothers, roll some cannon balls out of the shag, lock and load your pipe, and be prepared to have coolness ooze out of your poor's with a full body transformation.

For those that didn't previously know or who haven't tried Five Brothers before, consider yourself warned. Now back to your regularly scheduled programing.
 

rmbittner

Lifer
Dec 12, 2012
2,759
1,995
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.
I personally don’t choose a flake because it’s a flake; I choose it because I want to enjoy a particular blend and that’s the form the blend comes in.
 
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jpberg

Lifer
Aug 30, 2011
2,953
6,691
Five Brothers begs to differ.

Like a rockstar, some tobaccos want to be Five Brothers (I'm looking at you Irish Flake, trying to act all stout), while other tobaccos want to be with it (I'm looking at you aromatics, which embrace the strength of Five Brothers in a flavorful parfait with depth and desire).

Smoke some Five Brothers and your chest hair will become thicker and curlier, emulating the shag cut you just smoked in the sincerest form of flattery. Inadvertently inhale it and your beard will.grow instantaneously while coughing to the point where those who can't grow beards will have a 5 o'clock shadow (which was undoubtedly named after Five Brothers).

So next time someone tells you shags are uncool, tell them to hide their wives and children, pull out a pouch of Five Brothers, roll some cannon balls out of the shag, lock and load your pipe, and be prepared to have coolness ooze out of your poor's with a full body transformation.

For those that didn't previously know or who haven't tried Five Brothers before, consider yourself warned. Now back to your regularly scheduled programing.
The idea that 5 Bros has any ass is an internet myth, relayed by people who have not had tobacco with any ass.
 
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LeafErikson

Lifer
Dec 7, 2021
1,917
16,366
Oregon
Flakes are awesome once you get them figured out. They’re a bit confusing at first for most pipe smokers. Certain companies make flakes that require more dry time to smoke than others. I tend to smoke more ribbon cut than flake in smaller/medium pipes for 20-40 minute smokes. It’s kind of insane how many different ways there are to enjoy the pipe when you think about it.
 
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jpberg

Lifer
Aug 30, 2011
2,953
6,691
Nope, I'm fully capable. Figured sharing is caring.

As a moderator on another forum, I figured you be more of an ambassador instead of trolling what was initially meant to be a humorous post.
I didn’t see the humor in your post. Does that make me a troll?
And I’m not a moderator here, there’s a full compliment of good fellows taking care of things.
Five Brothers used to be a good stout blend. Now it ain’t.
Sorry if I harshed your humor.
 
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Jan 28, 2018
13,054
136,533
67
Sarasota, FL
I don't think anyone should knock Flake until they've learned to properly pack them and smoke at least ten tins. I'm enjoying a tin of F&T Golden Mixture every morning right now which is a ribbon cut. I'll smoke any cut if I like it. Reality is, not many of the prime Virginia blends are available in anything other than Flake form. Conversely, it seems there few Flake cuts in Aromatic and English blends. I'm not so sure the debate isn't more about genre preference than cut.

I like Flake because I find it fast and easy to pack, it burns slower and the flavors are more intense. Easy experiment is to smoke Capstan Blue Flake and the Ready Rubbed version. To me, they taste like two entirely different blends. I happen to like both but prefer the Flake.
 

Oddball

Starting to Get Obsessed
Dec 29, 2022
221
1,044
TN
I haven't read all the responses but I think there is a worthy place on the shelf for all forms. My favorites is the Mac Baren ununiform coin, those little swirly looking goons. That being said, I love my flakes and scoop them up. Sometimes the ready rubbed/ribbon/shag is the right one.


If I am in a hurry: 30-45min, or in a place where I am not set up to mess with the flakes, then I go that route.

I think the rope twist things are the ones I am most confused about but I haven't tried them all and none of the bulk offerings.
 

mso489

Lifer
Feb 21, 2013
41,210
60,455
Flake and other cuts like coin, plug, and rope, have the panache of requiring a little more effort to smoke and thus suggesting that the smoker is more advanced in their knowledge and skill, and there may be some truth in that.

I tend to smoke mostly loose tobacco of various cuts just for the savings in time.

However, I will say several good things about flake. Like the other more solid cuts, it seems to retain moisture and flavor longer than loose tobacco. Solid cuts also burn slower and longer than loose tobacco, so for example, you can pack a small chambered pipe with one of these cuts and get a much longer smoke, similar to a medium size chamber or larger.

And finally, I think the additional prep time of rubbing out, slicing, grating, or otherwise preparing flake cut blends actually adds to the ritual, sense of anticipation, and feeling and smelling the blend before you pack it and light it up that can enhance the experience. But the prep is important, so don't try to rush the process. Go with the flow.
 
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