Blunt wraps or simply "Blunts"
have been around for a few years. Their origin can be traced to the alternate
"herbal" market sector which includes some head shops - yes, there are a few
left. Before there were actual manufacturers of these tobacco by-product wrappers, users
would seek out cheap grocery store cigars, split the outer tobacco wrapper, throw away the innards and roll whatever was their pleasure inside.
This practice was almost never enjoyed by tobacco users with most folks using this
technique for smoking herbs of all kinds both legal and illicit. There are at least a
dozen or so manufacturers of these newer products as of this writing but the viability of
the blunt market, particularly as it addresses tobacco use, is not yet quite clear. In
fact, most within the tobacco industry consider them to almost never be used for tobacco.
We felt that such beliefs were a bit premature and decided to see for ourselves the
possibilities and practicalities of these increasingly popular wrappers. We emphasize popular
because it is necessary to understand the economics of small tobacco retail shops in order
to accurately evaluate this category. The fact is that most small shops are sorely tempted
to sell glass pipes, screens, and many other "alternative" market items in order
to service the wide audience these things attract and to bolster sagging profits due to
excessive state tobacco taxation.
Small shops, especially in high tobacco tax states simply cannot make enough profit on tobacco alone. Hence given the growing popularity of blunts, we felt it time to test some and see if they really do make a reasonably legitimate fit in the tobacco store environment. Now before we go further, most of what follows immediately is of a personal nature but I think necessary to this discussion.
Back in the 60's and 70's when I smoked a variety of herbs - hell, lets call a spade a spade, - POT, I would never have considered mixing tobacco with that substance. The two just don't go well together and a tobacco wrapped joint seemed plainly distasteful to me. The quality and hence strength of grass way back then was nowhere near as robust as that available today, so while a large stick might have been more of a necessity then, than today, larger papers regardless of what they were made from, were still seldom the answer for me. Also, the incredibly powerful strains available today are expensive and the idea of rolling up $50 worth of herb in one stick, for a bunch of friends who already can't find their ass with both hands, seems ludicrous. Simply, I guess I just don't get the aesthetic attraction or the economic viability of such methods.
However some of the blunts we tested with TOBACCO actually provided a pretty nice smoking experience. I no longer smoke the devil weed, not because I am particularly against its use, but I simply cannot tolerate the effects as they relate to my ability to function intellectually. In fact, though I believe that legalization of marijuana might have some positive ramifications, especially in terms of tax revenue dogma, I do know too many younger people who use it much too often and consequently spend too little time with more creative, productive activities. (It seems for some to have much the same reality numbing effect as TV and video games). This should be, as adults, their choice however, and as is always important to this magazine, we should emphasize here our dislike of government's propensity to regulate our personal behavior especially when it affects only ourselves. In much the same way that we disagree with glass pipes being classified as drug paraphernalia based solely on the material from which they are constructed, we feel that, if blunts can be shown to provide an enhanced tobacco smoking experience, their use for other activities should effectively be deemed irrelevant. After all, you can smoke illicit and even dangerous substances in a briar tobacco pipe or ANY rolling paper or in rolled up tin foil for that matter. Some truly legitimate rolling paper products that contain varying degrees of tobacco have already found a significant tobacco user audience. We have reviewed both Golden Wraps from Republic Tobacco and Brownies and found them to be pleasurable media for tobacco rolling especially if you are looking for a little stronger, more cigarillo-like smoking experience.
Now there is one other issue we would like to address before we actually share with you what we found when using blunts for tobacco use. That is: How are these thing going to be taxed? We have talked with a number of state revenue departments on this issue and the consensus is that in most cases if a product contains tobacco, no matter what percentage, it qualifies for a state tobacco tax levy. The actual constituent tobacco percentage of all of the blunts we tested is unclear. The packaging certainly gives one no indication of degree of content other than stating that most are made from tobacco by-products. Only Miami Blunts are said to be made from pure tobacco leaf. We did not find this leaf to be of particularly high quality, certainly not like a "good" cigar wrapper (Connecticut Shade or Broadleaf for instance) but nonetheless the wrapper was superior in actual tobacco flavor from the other blunts tested. Randy's (of Randy's Wired Papers) is planning on a true Connecticut Shade leaf blunt cut to 70-78mm to be marketed very soon. When we receive this new product we will immediately update the information here. Still there is no clear cut decision on how even these true 100% tobacco wraps will be viewed by various state and federal revenue agencies. I suspect they will be taxed along with and at the same rate as other tobacco products like rolling tobacco, or pipe tobacco, or more likely, cigars. (Some states now have different tax schemes for cigars).
The various blunt manufacturers are making a pretty concerted effort to sell these things as a means to making one's own cigarillo/cigars, but we have yet to find any blunt rolled with even great tobacco to even come close to duplicating the pleasure that even an economy grade tobacco shop cigar can provide. Having said that, the experience is, in all fairness, quite different as when the blunt is filled with a good cigarette tobacco, one can inhale and enjoy the tobacco flavor quite nicely. Of course this depends to a large degree on which blunt you choose and it is this subject that we will expand on during the remainder of this article.
There are many characteristic one might look for in the ideal blunt for rolling tobacco, but with the obvious exception of flavor quality, we found that the thinner the blunt, the better the experience. This is based mostly on the fact that thinner blunts lend themselves well to rolling in a hand rolling machine and thus are more effective in creating a very consistent, professional looking smoke. This consistency in the stick is of special import as it enhances the flavor and smoking continuity to such a point that the final product is in many ways superior to most cigarillo type smokes. The Kardel blunt is our pick for the thinnest and finest for just this kind of experience. Kardels come in a number of flavors but we found the Vanilla and Wild Berry flavors to be the most satisfying. We're told (by a competitor) that this brand has undergone a change in recent months and that the Kardel product used to be a thicker wrap. We haven't seen the old ones so we can't confirm this but suffice it to say that one of the things we have seen and heard from those who sell and use blunts regularly (certainly more the we do) is that thicker blunts are more often more popular in alternative smoke shop environs (head shops) and that many who use blunts for smoking materials other than tobacco seem to prefer the thicker blunts. We will cover later in this article such products but for now let's look closer at what can be accomplished with a thin blunt like the Kardel. The graphic at left shows a finished stick rolled with this thin wrap and the resulting product smoked quite nicely. There is a certain sweetness to the stick and while the aroma of each particular flavor is not as apparent in the smoke, the taste on the lips is quite pleasant. We did not notice any particular strength added to the tobacco taste, not even as much as the Golden Wraps or Brownies mentioned above. We did notice a somewhat "thicker" taste, in that the flavor that did come through seemed to stick on the palette a little longer than a normal paper, but in general, the very nice looking, easy to roll end product was quite enticing. Kardels, though much the same size as other blunt wraps are, as stated before, by far the thinnest. The dimensions in the graphic at right emphasize the usefulness of this product with any 110 mm roller and the stick we created was done successfully the first time. No blunts we tested had any gum and most come either pre-moistened (some very much so) and wrapped in airtight packaging or need to be moistened with a sponge (the more hardcore rollers are said to use their tongues) to make the roll adhesive enough to stay together. The thinner blunts seemed to need gum less than the thicker ones but many we talked to claimed they had no problem getting any of the blunts in this review to stay together. Again there are those who are more experienced with this rolling media than admittedly, are we.
The other end of the blunt spectrum comes with the definitely and purposefully controversial name of 420. Now the term 420 has been part of the pot scene for quite a few years and is speculated to come from the police call code for a drug bust. After examining many sites that use the term and attempt to define its origin, we found that no direct relationship exists to any one definition for this code word and, like most urban legends, there are a number of claimants to first use. What is pertinent here is that 420 IS a buzzword for pot and as such, products with this kind of name beg to be viewed as paraphernalia. The blunt itself is a double thickness one and is not easy to use with tobacco. However we found it to be pretty popular among the alternative market shops who we contacted for just such information. The plain (natural) and Honey flavor are the most popular. We are told a name change is in the works but have no date as yet that this will become fact. We must note however that this blunt when lit empty (no tobacco inside) and puffed on did give off a pretty nice tobacco aroma. The most popular blunt we tested was the Royal Blunt shown at right. The flavor, especially the Strawberry, was so good that we enjoyed just holding them in our mouths. Not as thick as the 420 they are still much thicker than the Kardel, which by the way is felt by many who are frequent users of blunts in the alternative market, to be too sheer. I must admit the Royal is of exceptional flavor and very well made. They come in single packs with a small clear plastic straw that is likely used to keep the blunt in a rolled up configuration until ready to use. We could find no other use (well, hardly any) for the straw so we are assuming this purpose to be the most logical. Once moistened (a lot) with a sponge the Royal did become pliable enough to roll with a hand roller and while the stick hung together pretty well, the flavor added to the tobacco inside was much more imposing. The few we gave out to folks for testing seemed to like the natural flavor best but as stated, the strawberry was downright yummy, just not particularly great for tobacco filled sticks (in our opinion only of course).
And the last blunt we looked at (though there are a number of others most are similar to this last category) was the 3-In-One. It is of medium thickness and comes in a variety of flavors. Again the thickness (which makes it desirable for the alternative market) was not an advantage for rolling tobacco. If moistened enough however a pretty good stick resulted but the sheer volume of blunt paper-vs-tobacco ratio left little of the taste of the cigarette tobacco we used. The 3-In-One comes as advertised with 3 blunts (shown at right) rolled up in each cellophane package. They are a good bargain with 3 blunts for basically the price of one, but for which market this item will gain an advantage, still remains to be seen.
Lastly we would like to introduce you to a product that, though not strictly defined as a blunt, was by far the biggest hit with our tobacco customers and even though it is more than a little unusual, it is nonetheless delicious. I speak of Amico Sweet Palm Wraps. Now whether this is a head toy or a tobacco wrap by intent, the efficacy of this item with tobacco is undeniable. We have yet to taste ANYTHING as yummy as this premade hollow tube. It is a very sweet palm (no tobacco here) leaf with an exotic, almost pineapple taste (they call it sweet Jamaican rum) and comes pre-formed with a little wooden stick for poking your favorite tobacco into the tube. This is accomplished rather easily though it does take a little time. But I assure you the time is well spent as the resulting smoke is again, sweet and exotic, and works especially well with halfzware type tobaccos. The stick tastes so good many who tried them simply liked to keep them stuck in their mouth adding no tobacco at all. Perhaps this will become an ideal way to quit smoking as it certainly satisfies the oral fixation element. The end is plugged with a porous woody substance, (lower left - probably palm bark) that one can draw smoke easily through and provides a good chomping bit for those who simply want to hold it in their teeth and suck on the stick. The wrap itself is about 120 mm long and about the diameter of a small petite corona cigar (about 38 ring gauge). They come five to a pack with a poking stick. If you are looking for a unique smoking experience, we recommend them highly. They smell so good they could be used as car air fresheners to the delight of all occupants.
Which brings us back to the initial thrust of this article which is that retail tobacco shops are going to attract many customers who are looking for supplies other than "traditional" tobacco, pipes and cigars. That doesn't mean you have to become a "head" shop, but don't dismiss out-of-hand the possibilities for profit provided by certain products that have many legitimate uses just because some users find some not so legitimate uses for them. Chances are, the customer looking for these alternatives is also a tobacco user and there is no reason to lose their possible business for tobacco supplies and have them go down the street where they can find the alternatives along with usually inferior, higher priced tobacco products as well.
One test we applied to many of the products reviewed in this issue (scales, blunts, etc.) was that their sale be reserved for our tobacco customers who had established a pattern of loyal patronage for our more traditional tobacco items. Tobacco users like to experiment as much as anyone and some or even many products normally viewed as headshop items have a very legitimate tobacco use. AND . . . many of these products can help make the difference between a profitable tobacco business and yet another failure.
If you have a rolling paper that we have missed (there are probably quite a few) and that you feel is worthy of a review, let us know. If you are a manufacturer of such a paper, send us some. We don't pretend to know everything and are daily and gratefully surprised by new items. Go to our Contact page and email, write, or send us your samples. We value our readers for the incredible resource that they are. - the ed.
Each issue we are increasingly gratified at the emergence of new, exciting products of innovative design and packaging. After all, as the RYO/MYO market grows it is these interesting products that exhibit some flair and style that will help their entry into the mainstream of tobacco enthusiasts. However, as we made note of above, the pricing of rolling papers in the US is becoming somewhat of an issue with our readers and even some distributors. We hear more and more that prices in other countries are substantially lower than those charged for the same products in the US. We hope this situation is not a long term problem and has a reasonable and legal (non anti-trust) explanation. We will cover in a future issue more of what we are able to determine as to the reasons for this apparent and potentially disturbing anomaly. - Doug
See ya next time - RYO
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we prescribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
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