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Cigars/Cigar Production Positions

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QUESTION: My college is doing a production of Anna In the Tropics, which takes place inside of a cigar factory. I am doing some preliminary research for the play and have some questions. The play is set in 1929 in Tampa Florida, specifically Ybor City. The factory is run by and employs Cubans. In the text, they specifically refer to each character's job. Some are "bunchers" and "rollers", both of which I understand from the research I've done. There are a few positions that I could not find, however. Some characters are described as "stuffers" and "wrappers". Do you know what these job titles refer to? Any information would be much appreciated.

ANSWER: Hi Jason,

From my research over the years, the stuffer was the factory worker that was responsible for producing machine made-cigars, inexpensive cigarros and/or smaller cigarillo and cigarritas. Cigarro, cigarillo and cigarrita cigars are smaller cigars roughly the size of a cigarette and are made by a machine as opposed to hand rolling that factory rollers normally do with larger premium sizes.

The wrapper is the person that selects the ideal wrapper leaves for cigar production. The wrapper leaf is the outer tobacco leaf that wraps the entire cigar so the wrapper must select the best looking wrapper leaves with uniform colour and minimal damage. The Cuban Spanish word for this person is "rezagador" or "resagador". (singular). The term "wrapper" may also refer to the cigar worker that rolls the cigar or the wrapper leaf itself.

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please feel free to just ask and I will be happy to help.

Sincerest regards,
James

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for the quick response! The information you provided helped a lot. I'm still slightly confused about the "stuffer": In the play, it is said several times that the factory does not use machines at all. This conflicts with your definition. Perhaps it is a mistake of the playwright? Do you have any further insight?

Answer
Hi Jason,

Prior to the 1950's, cigar factories didn't use large, automated cigar rolling machines that you may see in a cigar factory today. Instead, many factories used small, manual-powered rolling machines which had a rolling pin-type mechanism. These devices were about the size of a closed laptop computer and were secured onto a table. The device had a small mat that folded over itself and with the attached "rolling pin", rolled back and forth. To use this device, the factory worker would first place a binder leaf onto the mat, add some bunched filler tobacco at the end of the mat and then roll the mat back and forth. After several passes, a cigar will take shape. The cigar can then be placed in a cigar mold for shaping and/or given to another factory worker who will roll the wrapper leaf onto it to complete the cigar.

You can view examples of this machine on YouTube/the Internet. This device is called a Lieberman cigar roller/rolling machine. It was being used in the early 1900's and is still used today.

I hope this helps. As always, if you have anymore questions, please feel free to just ask.

Regards,
James  

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James Yee

Expertise

My main area of expertise is Cuban cigars and I can assist you if you have questions pertaining to Cuban cigars. I can also assist you with the following:

- General cigar-related questions and advice
- Humidor maintenance and troubleshooting (How to treat humidor mold, correct high/low humidity, humidor seasoning, etc.)
- Accessory maintenance and troubleshooting (Cigar cutters, hygrometers, humidifiers, etc.)
- Cigar restoration, preservation and troubleshooting (How to treat cigar mold/tobacco beetles, restoring vintage/dry cigars, etc.)
- Cigar/Brand identification
- Cigar etiquette

Unsure of a certain cigar brand? Wondering what a certain cigar tastes like? Have a question about Cuban cigars? Having problems with a humidor or Just let me know! I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. (NOTE: My main focus is on premium, hand-rolled cigars and not cheap, machine made, convenience store cigars.) IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT PROVIDE CIGAR OR CIGAR-RELATED APPRAISALS. If you have a vintage cigar item and you want to know if it's worth something, please contact an antique dealer that specializes in "TOBACCIANA".

Experience

I currently have 19 dedicated years of cigar smoking and counting. I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. For 5 years, I studied with Cuban torcedores (rollers), catadores (taste testers) and revisadores (inspectors) on every aspect involving the production of the Cuban cigar and I am currently writing a book that will help beginners understand everything they need to know about cigars and cigar smoking.

Publications
Maple Leaf Gardens: Memories & Dreams 1931-1999 (1999; ISBN: 0920445616)
50 Things Every Guy Should Know How To Do (2006; ISBN: 0452286654)
The [London] Times (October 8, 2009)


Education/Credentials
B.A. University of Toronto

Awards and Honors
Allexperts Top 25 Shortest Average Response Time: 2008-2009
Highest Rank:
- 2008 - 6th Overall, July
- 2009 - 10th Overall, February

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