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Why is my cigar sprouting leaves?

Q: About a month ago I purchased a box of Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature cigars. I just lit-up the first one and noticed a bead of almost clear brown liquid, about the size of straight pin head, about one quarter of an inch from the burn. As the burn drew closer to the liquid, suddenly two sprouts shot straight up. They had an off-white color and were about one eighth of an inch long; they looked like the leaves of a tulip flower. Whoa! That put an end to that cigar, which cost over $6. Any idea what might have happened?
– Dan N. in Portland, MI

A: This is probably one of the most bizarre stories I’ve read in a long time. As far as the bead of liquid, I’ve smoked some cigars in which some of the juice from the tobacco would appear due to a small hole or crack in the wrapper. But this sprout thing sounds more like the liquid was actually water. Let me check with a friend of mine who is a Certified Master Tobacconist; maybe he’ll know.

So I forwarded Dan’s message to Jorge Armenteros at Tobacconist University and here’s what he replied:

WTF?! Would love to have seen that…never heard of such a thing, but in the last year I have found [chewing] gum and what looked like a cigarette filter in a cigar. Two very prominent brands! So bad for business!

Many years ago, I found a chicken feather in the head of a cigar. Eeeee! Suffice it to say that if Jorge doesn’t know, I doubt anyone else does. My hypothesis is – so don’t take this as gospel – somehow a seed got into the bunch. There may have been just enough moisture for the seed to take root inside the cigar. When the ash got to the seedling, the heat opened up a space for the sprout to…sprout! I only wish you had taken a picture of it.

Better luck with your future smokes, but for the record, I’ve never had a problem with most Arturo Fuente cigars, especially the Hemingway line, so go figure…this is one for the books. Let me know if it happens again, and get the shot!

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