Those Crazy Culebras!

If you walk into a cigar store and find yourself staring at what looks like a chunk of tangled rope in the display case, you’re probably looking at a “Culebra.” The unusual physical appearance of this cigar is really like no other. A Culebra is a 3-in-1 twisted cigar made with freshly rolled panatelas that are five to seven inches long. Immediately after rolling, the still-supple cigars are twisted into braids of three which are tied together at each end to set the culebra’s peculiar shape. (In Cuba, after completion, culebras are usually packaged in tin foil instead of a box.) Culebras can be smoked two ways: all at once (if you dare!) or separated and smoked one at a time. These crazy-looking cigars actually originated in the 19th century cigar factories to keep workers from stealing cigars. One culebra cigar was given to each employee who would usually unbind it to smoke separately throughout the day. By doing this the owners would know which employees were smoking their allotment and which were smoking the profits. Likewise, if you’re going to smoke one of these, you should unbraid the cigars and smoke them one at a time. On the other hand, it might be more fun to take one strand and share the remaining two with some friends.

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