A Time for Change - Plowing the Road
RYO Magazine is heading into its 18th year of publication. We are proud of the longevity of this project (and it really started out to be merely a project, but very soon morphed into something far more comprehensive and lasting). Because of the ever increasing complications of the subject of tobacco, the time has come for a summation of where we have been and where we are going, and . . . where each of you have been and where you are likely to find yourself as well. And then the sky was falling.
Before we begin however you will notice some changes. And I would like to first introduce a few new participants who will be joining us shortly. These are several fine companies who bring added and much needed diversity to the world of RYO. Remember please while this magazine has focused a great deal on tobacco and this cover page has been a very long excursion into the politics, science, and in general, the controversy from everything regarding smoking and health to the greedy unprincipled opponents of this extremely clean pastime (at least it started out that way - more on that in a moment). Regardless, over the past 16 years we have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest folks who we find as dedicated to quality and sensible consumption as we ourselves have proposed and followed for so many years and the following companies, some somewhat different in their product lines, all demonstrate the evolution we have continued to see in all aspects of this hobby. CMC (Custom Made Cigarettes) needs as much diversity as possible and there are many fields that will intertwine quite well with it. And most especially with the advent of relaxation of Cannabis laws, there is going to be a lot of things to consider and speak of.
It has been a great 16 years, filled with high points and even a few pretty low ones, not unlike life itself. However, the most important single thing to emphasize, over all of the bitter sweetness,especially over taxation, regulaton, and the introduction of so many inferior products as well as some down right stupid strategies, is that RYO has survived and even more today than before, the priciples of RYO will remain what each of us makes of it. Yes it will be more expensive but that will not deter the connoisseur or even the hobbyist who enjoys great tobacco and has the sense to regulate their usage to fit their own and unique personal budgets. Moderation will continue to be the true bell-weather of RYO, ringing loudest to those who have experienced the best and are unwilling to be satisfied with garbage. It is only fitting that, while temporarily, the number of people enjoying RYO will decrease somewhat, ultimately it is our belief that eventually everyone who enjoys a few good smokes will find their way to this industry. The pipe tobacco versus rolling tobacco issue will be resolved and likely will be resolved in favor of tax equalization and higher taxes overall. However as to true value, making one's own cigarettes, especially out of the finest of materials will always be the choice of those who chose to partake in tobacco use with the respect that such an endeavor requires and deserves. And most importantly, it will always remain, THE fiscally wisest choice for those that have the vision to see it.
One of the most satisfying (perhaps the most satisfying) aspects of producing this magazine over this many years has been the power shown by so many to innovate. And today, even with the less than satisfying though at best, temporary conversion of RYO Tobacco to Pipe tobacco, in all other areas of this industry, creativity and innovation has excelled. We'll return to the subject of RYO vesus Pipe tobacco abit later in this cover article BUT it should be known from the start that this publication will from this time forward, differ from all previous issues. No longer will all the political and regulatory outrages and diversions be covered in this Cover page. From now on the cover of RYO Magazine will focus exclusively on the positive and at times negative aspects of the RYO Industry that are internally generated by the industry itself. We will leave the rest of the world's attitudes about RYO to the Editorial Section. Here you will find best of the best as well as those things that this industry MUST improve.
For as long as Man has walked the Earth, RYO has existed. It has taken many forms but simply, it implies making things for yourself with materials YOU choose. The acronym RYO is applied to many activities of such personal nature from various artistic endeavors, the building many things and to even making one's own ammunition. And tobacco has been around nearly as long as Man has walked this Earth. Despite much flawed historical statements, tobacco has grown wild for eons. It is a naturally occurring plant of the nightshade genus. Sure its growing has been improved upon more recently (hundreds of years ago) but it has existed and been used by humans far longer.
This little thing not only makes consistently perfect sticks, it is much easier to use than the EXP 1000. It also makes 100 mm sticks without hesitation and is extremely robust just like its larger siblings, and sells for around $20 or less. Again it makes PERFECT sticks, filter tight and fully packed. It comes with all of the usual superb tools except the bore bristle brush which is not needed because of the smaller footprint, but retains the soft, high quality brush and poking tool in case of jams. I can use this small machine interchangeably with either of the other two Powermatics and I do so without hesistation. These machine come in white (my favorite) and black (my favorite for cars). We will do a short video soon but I assure you it is really easy to use and even its smallness has been addressed by larger operating surfaces without changing it overall size.
Zico has other product in production like the Powermatic 150, a bit smaller take on the Powermatic 1 (but every bit as superb) and lastly for now the brand new Powermatic 3, which is the most exeptional injector I have ever seen (or even imaged). More on this neo-magical marvel, with its built-in hopper (that holds 32 cigarettes worth of tobacco the most powerful integral mechanism ever imagined and on the drawing table, even more to amaze. For instance they make the Powermatic S, absolutely the finest consumer grade tobacco cutter, for the emerging Whole Leaf sector which we will talk about soon, And the only reason we consider this cutter/shredder consumer grade is to emphasize its intended and regulated LEGAL use. That is by a consumer , not any retailer who may wish to cut up tobacco for their customers. That is ILLEGAL, will be prosecuted by the Feds, and in general is not necessary anyway as the Powermatic S is not so expensive considering you are buying Whole Leaf tobacco without (so far) the ridiculous Federal Excise Tax of $24.78 per pound found on the best RYO tobacco. It runs around $270 but remember you are saving 24.78 for every pound you process. And the word PROCESS is key here as any retailer who cuts or otherwise alters whole tobacco leaf tobacco, is deemed a manufacturer and the fines for doing so without a license are enormous.
We have one of the first Powermatic S's and have had if for 3 years. It still works perfectly although during these last 3 years, there have been many improvements. A video will eventually be forthcoming as well. More magic from ZICO! You can go to Zico's website to see any of these marvels at http://www.powermaticinjector.com and there is more to come still. They even have a line of excellent tubes.
Tubes that are both incredibly beautiful, innovative and pristine (VeraCruz and Beretta from StVincent USA/ Silverfoil, ZigZag and others), and of course, tobacco blenders, some of whom never produced "floor sweepings" as blends, staying true to their passion for quality. Every one of those true believers will enjoy the re-emergence of RYO as CMC. Whatever the final acronym, it will not only be profitable but a source of pride driven by passion rather than greed for all who participate. Manufacturers who both understand and actually use their products are finally increasing in numbers. As a reminder, more than 90% of the exhibtors at traded shows who smoked as of 2004, and even those specifically in the RYO/CMC/MYO business, smoked packaged cigarettes. Why? Well it surely wasn't a case of quality as truly great tobacco (of which there are admittedly fewer brands today) but not in 2004 were plentiful and even the realatively primitive injectors of that era made great cigarettes. No, the reason was that many of even most of the purveyors of RYO/CMC/MYO were either too lazy to make their own (a 5 minute a pack exercise) or they never had a taste for good tobacco anyway and most likely were in the sector just for the money, which explains the proliferation of crap tobacco that emerged from that time.
This new scenario is not just wishful thinking. It can be
likened to the American car industry when manufacturers nearly destroyed their reputations
and customer base when trying to compete price-wise with the much lower cost imports from
Japan in the 70s. It took more than three decades for these manufacturers to regain their
once unrivaled dominance as to quality and reliability and they still have ground to make
up. And more recently the Japanese have experienced a similar situation in competition
with South Korean auto makers. It's an old story and the outcome is always the same. Cheap
does not equal Value!
Well that is history and as of now I am completely blown away by the prowess of the new Powermatic 150. It is as smooth as greased lightening and every bit as powerful as its slightly larger brother, the Powermatic I. The proprietary transmission is one of its secrets. Its simplicity is amazing. I cannot imagine ever breaking this thing, and while it is possible (barely) to jam it with great big hunks of poorly conditioned tobacco. It is so simple to clear it and to understand its workings, that I seriously doubt anyone will ever jam it twice. It is nearly the equal to my all time favorite, the magnificient electric Powermatic II. And here it is, the final version - a thing of beauty! I've prepared some videos on its use, highlighting some of its design parameters which I will post tomorrow. Let no one doubt the incredible utility of this new machine. It is elegance defined, and in my opinion, as easy to use than the stellar Powermatic I. More will be available tomorrow, so sleep well and get ready for another detailed look at yet another revolution from the minds of ZICO,
The rebirth of the RYO industry will take some time but not nearly so long as the
auto industry experienced as all the components and talent and the incredible abilities of
American tobacco farmers remain in place. The only real change necessary will be the
commitment and marketing savvy to accept the new concept of, once again, Quality
being absolutely dominant over Cost. No compromise in Quality need ever
be the operating force in any or all marketing and production. Custom Made Cigarettes are
the future and to live up to that name there is no room for bottom feeders to any longer
pollute the product category. May sound harsh, but it makes perfect long term business
sense and satisfies as well the aesthetics of any upscale product for the consumer. Though
they may be building Ferraris at the price of Fiats, Cadillacs at the price of Chevys,
these products will perform and be heralded as the finest in the world.
Rolling Supreme is acutally one of HBI's online outlets. Both there and in their catalogs one can find more products than almost any distributor carries. HBI has grown huge and the quality of the products they represent and in many/even most cases, actually manufacture, is equally impressive. For instance, even though they don't yet manufacture everything they carry, they carry practically everything of quality. For instance the deservedly well known name of ZigZag, especially for papers and other things can be found at HBI. Hundred of brands of rolling papers may seen like a lot but many people have widely varying tastes.
Starting with the classic Orange packaged ZigZag 225, this slow burning paper is among the world's favorites and found in nearly every convenience store or supermarket inn the US. While there are quite a number of traditional rolling papers and new ones as well that match the quality of the Zig-ZAG brand, there are mighty few that exceed the quality of these fine papers AND that includes the whole line of Zig-Zags, as well as everything that HBI makes and sells which are likewise stellar. More on that in the Rolling paper Section of this issue, but for a bit of a tease, the following are the most popular of the Zig-Zag lineup.
For instance , the fairly newly packaged King Sized shown at right,
is a large paper that reflects its elegance in its new wrapper, I love this paper as it
easily allows for larger rolls while maintaining both the tensile strength and yet
sheerness ZigZags are known for. A longer and wider paper has many advantages, depending
of course on what you are rolling and the quantity which you wish to consume, as well
as if you have large hands.
And finally, one of the papers I havve been unable to acquire but are out there is the ZigZag UltraThin. This highly translucent paper practically disappears with almost no ash and very little if any added flavor to your smoke.
And of course there are many other fine ap
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we subscribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
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