Rings Around Cigars: The Cigar Band
The Band The History and the Romance of Cigar's Paper Ring
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Charles Levi, owner of Iwan Ries in Chicago, advises customers to leave the band on. "Cigar wrappers are more delicate now than they used to be so there is a greater danger the smoker will damage the wrapper in removing the band," he says. "Some people leave a Montecristo or Cohiba band on in hopes of impressing someone, but the more secure, modern urban professionals don't give a damn about showing off and remove the band."
G. Cabrera Infante, the author of Holy Smoke, advises, "The band, though placed around a cigar last, must always come off first, no matter what bogus connoisseurs might tell you." A few lines later, though, he adds, "On the other hand you can leave the band if you want to advertise what you smoke, [but] on the other hand, if you don't want to appear too nouveau riche, you can strike off the band--and throw it away."
Davidoff called it "personal choice," claiming that in today's world there is no great shame in leaving the band on a cigar, citing references to both practices in the literature. He personally removed bands only after a few puffs when the cigar was well lighted and "running."
Anwer Bati in The Cigar Companion (Running Press, $24.95, 1993, 224 pages) joins the "personal choice" bandwagon, but notes that the British still consider it "bad form" to advertise the brand you are smoking. He follows Davidoff's lead in suggesting you not remove the band until you have smoked the cigar for a few minutes. The heat of the smoke, he claims, will make the gum on the band less adhesive and easier to remove without tearing the fragile wrapper.
The debates over bands may seem much ado about nothing, but the next time a little girl's face lights up as you slip a cigar-band ring on her finger, tell her one of the romantic legends if you choose. Just thank Gustave Bock for making her smile possible.
Cigar-industry historian Tony Hyman has been collecting its artifacts for 42 years. He is the author of Handbook of American Cigar Boxes (Treasure Hunt Books, $24.95, Box 3028-C, Pismo Beach, California 93448).
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