So, what is it: Once made famous by baseball players in the 1900’s, chewing tobacco, (aka: dip, chewing tobacco, snuff), is a smokeless tobacco product made from tobacco leaves. The leaves are cut into long strands, then fermented and processed or sweetened. Its adopters are often “young white males,” 13% of which are high school students, according to a 2011 survey by the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
How it works: When chewing, the nicotine (which is three to four times the amount from a cigarette) is absorbed through the mouth tissues. Once absorbed, the “chewer” will experience a significant head buzz; your head will soon feel like it is attached by a string and you’re blissfully floating while firmly grounded.
You'll also look like you’ve been punched in the lip and have developed swelling. Badass.
Some people claim to have found fiberglass in brands of chewing tobacco—this being the rumor behind how the Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream. Many have shrugged this off as fiction and claim the fiberglass sightings are simply grains of salt, which are required for the curing process.
The proper chewing process:
Open: The best way to determine the tobacco’s freshness is by checking its moisture. If you're not yet an experienced chewer, purchase long-cut tobacco. It’s much easier to manage in both your fingers and mouth.
I'd suggest beginners purchase Skoal tobacco: Its product contains less nicotine and offers more flavors than a Baskin Robbins. (Peach, Berry, Apple, Mint, etc.)
Pack: In order to make the tobacco easier to grab, you should forcefully shake the container to compact the dip so, when you grab your dip, you won’t have any loose tobacco falling all over the place like some amateur slob. An easy way to do this is to bang the can on a hard surface. Or, to pack like a pro, here’s a quick little clip on packing a tight chew.
Pinch: For beginners, pinching your dip could be an embarrassing struggle. If you’re with a group, this might be a good time to head to the bathroom and try pinching there. Wash any remnants that might have fallen (they will) down the sink and clean up your face since, for some, this process is never neat. A standard pinch for beginners is the amount you can pinch between your thumb and pointer finger. Don’t double dip just yet.
Place: Here’s where things get oral, so to speak. Place the dip you’ve just pinched in between your lower lip and your teeth; make sure the tobacco is packed tight because you don’t want any loose chew floating around your mouth, in your teeth, or worse: being swallowed. Then, pack the dip with your tongue to make sure it’s loaded into place.
Juice: Now that the chew is in your mouth, work your lip up and down to produce more juice. Do not chew the dip as its name so inaccurately suggests—you will puke, no question. Come equipped with a water bottle so you aren’t spitting brown shit on the floor, and properly dispose of the bottle when you're done.
(Warning: If you're new to chew, you may experience an intense head rush or nausea that could lead to vomming. If you begin to sweat or become uncomfortably lightheaded, get rid of the dip. You’re going to yak.)
Spit: When your mouth has collected a substantial amount of the tobacco juice (gross term, I know), spit it into some kind of container. As stated above, a water bottle is common and recommended as they are easily accessible and you can cap the bottle to avoid spillage.
Store: Keep all of your unused dip in a cool place, such as a freezer or fridge. This will prevent the tobacco from drying out.
Congrats! You know how to dip, slugger.
[Chewing tobacco image via Shutterstock]