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OBT THE MANUFACTURE OF TOBACCO,
PLUGS FOR CHEWING AND SMOKING.
In no other line of manufacture is there so much to be gained by the proper selection and judicious use of the material, as in the manufacture of plug tobacco. How to combine the different qualities of tobacco, with what sauces to treat them, how to fashion the plugs or twists, and what markets are to be accommodated, require the most intelligent thought and the most skillful management. The tobacco leaf is exceedingly variable in its component elements. Its secrets are the secrets of chemistry and bacteriology. It presents endless problems and constant study for their solution. The manipulation differs with each variety or grade, and no two types or grades of tobacco will produce precisely the same results under the same treatment. The taste and flavor of the product must be agreeable to the consumer, and the tastes of consumers vary. What will suit one class of consumers would probably be very distasteful to another class. The man of sedentary habits prefers a mild, sweet tobacco, with a small content of nicotine. On the other hand, the field laborer, the sailor, the fisherman or the man living an outdoor life, is best pleased with strong tobacco. The habits, as well as the tastes, of men must therefore be considered by the successful manufacturer.
The manufacture of tobacco has been going on for centuries, and from the simple operation of taking out the midrib and putting it up into twists, the industry now employs the most skilled labor and the most complete mechanical appliances for treating it with sauces, drying it by artificial heat, reordering it by steam, weighing, putting on the wrapper, and compressing into plugs in various forms and sizes.
The Burley of Kentucky and Ohio, and the sun, air and flue cured tobacco of Virginia and the Carolinas, constitute the fillers for the greatest part of the plug tobacco of the United States. The wrappers also come from Virginia, the Carolinas and the White Burley districts. The Burley fillers are sometimes whitish, but generally of a cinnamon color, of a tough, waxy finish and silky fiber. These fillers have more body and gum than the cutting leaf from the same districts. The raw material is put up in casks, of an average weight of 1000 pounds for Burley fillers, and 750 pounds for Virginia and Carolina wrappers. The tobacco is packed in uniform layers, and but slightly compressed, so the leaves may open freely.
In a properly constructed tobacco factory, the first work begins in the upper story, to which the hogsheads are elevated. The work begins in the leaf department. The casks are taken off, so as to expose the tobacco. It is taken up, bundle by bundle, and shaken. The inferior tobacco is thrown in one pile, and the better qualities assorted and put in other piles. Water is sprinkled over each layer of bundles as they are put in the piles, and the tobacco remains in this condition for twentyfour hours, so that the moisture may become evenly distributed. Women mainly, and sometimes men, are employed (see Fig. 130) in untying the bundles, and picking, leaf by leaf, assorting and separating them into the different qualities suitable for the various brands to be