Appalachia children Pap

Pretending to Dip

Appalachian sayings finer than snuff and not near as dusty

Someone left a comment the other day about their grandmother dipping snuff. Both my grandmothers dipped snuff at one time or another. In those days, things were different and the health risks of tobacco weren’t discussed like they are today.

Back in the day when tobacco use was more common children often pretended to smoke or dip.

One of my best friends wanted to be like her aunt who happened to be a smoker. When she was just a small child she decided she’d make her own cigarettes out of rolled up book pages. Luckily, her mother found her just as the fire in the bedroom started from her attempts.

I remember us kids picking up sticks and playing like they were cigarettes. You could even get candy cigarettes in those days along with Big League Chewing Gum that mimicked chewing tobacco.

A few years back Blind Pig reader Wanda left this comment:

“When we were kids, we’d sneak and mix cocoa & sugar–we called it snuff & ate it while pretending we were dipping.”

I don’t remember pretending to have snuff, but Wanda’s comment sure does remind me of something, maybe I saw some other kids making up their own sugar and cocoa concoction.

When I was a little girl Pap rolled his own cigarettes. He was a Prince Albert man. I can remember sitting in his lap and playing with the holes he’d burned in his shirt or the can in his pocket.

One time I asked him why I couldn’t smoke. He said well I could if I wanted to. He let me have a big puff of his cigarette. I started coughing my head off and he just about died laughing at me. Today that would be considered child abuse, but it’s one of my fondest memories. I can still see the teasing way Pap’s eyes squinched up as he laughed.


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  • Reply
    April 23, 2019 at 11:46 am

    My brother and I had candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars. The candy cigarettes tasted like mint. There’s a little store on the way to our denomination’s mountain retreat facility that still sells candy cigarettes. The last time I went on the retreat, I had to buy some. I never smoked because I didn’t like lighting those book matches.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    I too remember one of my granny’s chewed tobacco, granddaddy did also. My husband’s ”mammy” dipped snuff…. When my sister and I spent the night at granny’s house, the spit-cans in various places there were something we never wanted to accidentally kick over 🙂 …… but one day while there I got to looking into the drawers of her sewing machine ( a peddle machine), and low and behold in right side lower drawer was a big twist of tobacco along with an old granddaddy flint sharpened knife. I picked that twisted thing up and smelled it , aww strange ,and then I decided to chew a little bit like granny( unbeknownst to her)… bad decision, I never did that again !!! But I loved candy cigarettes though,…. also growing up there were trees in our neighborhood that flowered then produced these long bean like pods. We used to get these and light one end pretending like we were smoking. Never took up smoking though, just didn’t like it, it really effected the health of one granny when she was older.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    My Mom and my Dad smoked. I smoke some when i was 14 or 15 yrs old. My dad smoked Prince Albert in a can. When he found out i was smoking, we were cutting wood one day and we took a break and he was rolling him a cigarette and he looked at me and said, do you want one. I said yep. He said , you can roll it then . I never could get mine as tight as dad could
    I couldn’t believe he let me have one. My older bro5her never did smoke. As for dipping, i tried Scoal one time, and i was coming back to the house and had to cross the creek and I was so dizzy i bout fell was like i was drunk. When i got married and few months down the road found out i was pregnant so that made me stop right there. My husband never smoked. My kids don’t. I’m so glad..God Bless

  • Reply
    Nancy schmidt
    April 18, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    My mother, Haze Burns Rucker was born in Blount County, 1907. I remember her telling me that she and her very young aunt would go ‘out behind the barn” as youngsters and roll and smoke mullein leaves, they called “rabbit tobacco”.
    I didn’t notice any comments remembering the usual necessity for s place to spit occasionally, in my uncle’s care (he chewed Redman or Apple), the slop bucket, the receptacle for kitchen scraps and similar debris kept for the pigs.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 18, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    My parents both smoked P.A. in the big, round cans. They both had those smaller cans tho. Daddy carried his in his back pocket, and Mama put her’s in her pocketbook. She was crippled in her left side, from a stroke when I was about 3 months old. I smoked when I was 5 or 6, but laid ’em down when Mama died in ’86 and I ain’t touched one since.

    My grandpa (Theadore) met Ola when he was in WW1. She was the littleist woman, I think she was Dutch, you had to look close to see her, if she was fixen the fire. All of her boys were big ole things, even Thea was over 6 foot tall. They both dipped Snuff. …Ken

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      April 18, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      I thought your grandma was Ola Cordelia Duvall. She was a sister to Bass Duvall the “Rolling Store” proprietor. That Ola was born in Macon County. Her father Calvin Duvall was born in Iredell County.
      Where you been hiden Ken?

  • Reply
    Cheryl Christensen Bennett
    April 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    My mom never smoked but my dad liked a good pipe and sometimes a cigar. Hearing about your experience trying a cigarette reminded me of the time I tried my dad’s cigar. It was horrible. REALLY horrible.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    April 18, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Cotton was often stored in shacks we called “cotton houses” here in West TN back when picking was done by hand. My mother & her sister hid out on top of a bale of cotton trying to smoke. They decided the smokes would go out if they put them down in the cotton. They ended up burning up the cotton and were running laps crying out, “We didn’t do it!”. They were never punished for this!

    My parents smoked Prince Albert for years. I remember Mama cutting the cans into strips, covering them with brown paper, and using them for curlers. You rolled the hair around the middle and folded the ends in to hold the hair.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    April 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I had a couple of uncles who both chewed tobacco and smoked cigarettes simultaneously. The other uncles either smoked or chewed.  All but one of my aunts dipped snuff and most of my cousins smoked cigarettes. There is a lot of talk about second-hand smoke. I really don’t believe that it is a danger.  The entire atmosphere of Western North Carolina was second-hand smoke during the fifties when I was growing up.  If it was a real danger, then most of my generation would already be dead. Uh, wait a minute… most of them are, but I think it is more attributable to aging instead of the air we breathed growing up.
    The anomaly in the lifestyle in which I grew up was the person who did not smoke, dip or chew.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    April 18, 2019 at 11:10 am

    I had an aunt I dearly loved who dipped snuff. She carried a can to spit in and I always thought it was awful, but I, too, mixed cocoa and sugar to make “snuff”. It was really good. My husband smoked what he called rabbit tobacco when he was a kid, and took up smoking real cigarettes when he was fourteen. He tried to stop many times, but when he had a heart attack and quintuple bypass surgery, he had the right motivation and never smoked another cigarette. My father smoked cigarettes all his life, until his death at the age of 88. I hated the smell it left in the house and in his bedroom. But I am very sensitive to odors like cigarettes, perfumes, chemicals in laundry soap, etc. I look back on my life and wonder how I lived through so much second hand smoke, during my childhood and for half my married life.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Both of my grandmothers dipped snuff. If you are in your 70’s and 80’s you for sure remember candy cigarettes and it seemed like a lot of people smoked back then. Of course, they did not know the dangers back then. My father smoked a pipe for a short time but quit it. Last year I was in the doctor’s office for my wellness visit and he had a new doctor with him. They were going over my family history of osteoporosis and my mother and grandmother’s heart problems when they asked if I smoked. I said no but my grandmother’s dipped snuff. I was taken a back when the young doctor said, “What is that?” I guess she was from a different part of the country.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    April 18, 2019 at 9:28 am

    My grandma dipped snuff. I remember us visiting her one time and I got stung by a bee. She just stuck her finger to her lip and got a little of the “juice” and put it on my bee sting. It helped the sting go away.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2019 at 9:09 am

    When I visited eastern KY back in the fall, I bought a box of candy cigarettes at one of the old stores that I visited as a child. The candy I bought may well have been there when I was a child too. I gave them to my grandson who thought that was the coolest thing he had ever seen. I sure hope he didn’t take them to school. His mom probably threw a fit though, being the anti-smoker she has always been.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 18, 2019 at 8:49 am

    My uncle Wayne called someone a “Snuff Eatin Jezebel”. I don’t remember who was the object of his disdain but I’ll always remember that description.
    I didn’t mix sugar with the cocoa powder when I dipped. I’ve tried snuff too and believe the cocoa was stronger. I don’t partake of either any more.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 18, 2019 at 8:42 am

    When I was a boy you could buy cigs. snuff, or chewing tobacco. There were no restrictions on age as far as I know. You could buy a pack of lucky strike or camels for 23 cents and no tax. I believe a poke of chewing tobacco was about the same. The first time I smoked was corn silk wrapped in, I think, a page of a sears catalog. It was awful! My first chew was life ever lasting and it wasn’t too bad. It has a similar flavor to tobacco but not as strong. Last yr. there was some life ever lasting growing on my hill side and I stripped it and had a chew. Any time I’m hunting in the fall and find it I have some. It has no nicotine in it and I believe it is used for colds and such either smoked or made into a tea.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 18, 2019 at 8:30 am

    One of my grandmothers dipped Bruton (or Brunton?) snuff that came in a little shiny tin with a white and red paper label. My other grandma chewed Days O’ Work mixed with oven-roasted burley leaf.

    I also remember the shiny red Prince Albert cans. Us boys liked to get them to carry things in. I have wondered some several times if they could even be found anymore.

    I remember both the candy cigarettes and the Big League Chew. I don’t recall ever having any BLC but I liked the candy cigarettes OK, wintergreen flavor I seem to recall.

    It disturbs me, by the way, to hear people bad mouth prior generations for their habits or attitudes or actions. There are so many things wrong with it and wrong in them for doing it. I can tell you all that because you understand and are not like that.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    April 18, 2019 at 7:37 am

    I don’t think any of my Grandparents smoked or dipped. If they did we never saw it.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    April 18, 2019 at 7:28 am

    I remember people “dipping” when I was a kid. Men would carry a piece of twig to brush their teeth with after ‘dipping”.
    By the way, I visited the Historical Soc in Bryson City yesterday and again was impressed by the info there and the friendly atmosphere. Verna and company are such nice people.!!!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    April 18, 2019 at 7:16 am

    When I was a kid, it seemed like just about all the women up the holler rubbed snuff ( I don’t remember calling it dipping snuff). And I remember us kids mixing up cocoa and sugar and putting it behind our lower lip like snuff. We also tore off a piece from brown paper pokes and filled it with corn silks and rolled it up and pretended we were smoking. It was just something that a lot of kids did and we didn’t try to hide doing it. And I also remember the candy cigarettes – they even sold those when my kids were young. I am blessed that my husband or I have never smoked and neither have our kids ever smoked. So pretending when we were kids never influenced us to do it as grownups.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2019 at 7:13 am

    Smoking and dipping, were one of the worst habits I ever took up, thank the Good Lord and his help, I kicked both, dipping was the hardest to stop, but a surgery to the inside bottom lip and a stiff warning from the Doctor this was the first stages of lip cancer, that did it, threw it away and stayed away. Tobacco-free for about 15 yrs now.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 18, 2019 at 6:47 am

    My Great grandmother dipped snuff but my grandmother would not and she did not approve of the nasty habit. My grandfather dipped snuff but not in the house. My grandmother would not allow swearing or snuff dipping in the house.
    My grandmother, called Aunt Dollie by most folks, was what you’d call large and in charge…and she was for sure both of those things!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 18, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Pretty amazing I remember candy cigaretts, thinking jow grown up it was to pretend to smoke them. Today it seems odd to see a smoker. Which is a good thing with all the dangers

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