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Commentary: Increasing Your Cigar Pleasure

20 Aug 2012

I read, or at least flip through, a lot of magazines. Good ones. Bad ones. Those devoted to topics about which I have much interest, and those exploring areas I care little about.

Invariably, I find something of note. It may be a stunning photograph in Birds & Blooms, a fascinating tale of accomplishment in This Old House, or a thought-provoking review in Stereophile.

One thing I’m struck by is how often what I’m reading seems to relate to cigars. (You were wondering when we were going to get to that, weren’t you?) Like the other day when I was perusing the September issue of Men’s Health.

There are few people farther from the magazine’s target demographic than I: old, balding, overweight, arthritic, exercise-averse. But there’s usually something to catch my eye. In this case, it was an article about the power of money in our lives and ways in which we can exert control over it.

The article cited a fascinating study that revealed much about how little we understand our sense of enjoyment. Asked whether they preferred a massage with or without interruptions, 73% said without. “Yet those who then received an interrupted massage valued it twice as much,” according to the article.

Why, you ask. Well, the researcher, NYU professor Tom Meyvis, explained that the key is savoring. Experience too much and you adapt to the experience, failing to appreciate it. Break it up, though, and “you reduce adaptation and increase sensitivity,” Meyvis said, adding in the article, “I’d also suggest that instead of buying one big thing make little purchases over time to repeat that initial enjoyment effect.”

So, back to cigars. The implication seems pretty obvious to me: when you find a cigar you absolutely love, don’t buy a box. That would lead you to smoke them more regularly, become accustomed to them, and reduce your enjoyment of them. Instead, buy singles and you’ll have the pleasure of anticipating the purchase, smoking the cigar, and thinking about when you’ll smoke it again.

And with that I offer a doff of the chapeau to the good professor. I have no idea whether he’s a cigar smoker, but I plan to email him a copy of this commentary and see if he has any thoughts to offer. If he does, I’ll be sure to pass them along.

In the meantime, savor your cigars. Think, and grow, happy.

George E

photo credit: Men’s Health

6 Responses to “Commentary: Increasing Your Cigar Pleasure”

  1. cigarphil Monday, August 20, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    George, I find it difficult choosing my daily cigar, I guess I have 400 in the good to see God range. You must face this also, so I wonder what your method is?

    • George E. Monday, August 20, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Phil – I really have no method. Sort of the blind-pig-looking-for-an-acorn approach. I do then to experiment with quite a few cigars I might not otherwise try because I want to both keep up with new things and comment on them for SG. In the summer, my choice is often influenced by stick size. I'm more apt to smoke robustos and coronas then and churchills in the fall and winter.

  2. Jim P. Monday, August 20, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Spot on in my case. I buy a box and end up growing tired of the cigar about half to three quarters of the way through. The positive is that the leftovers get a good aging and are a treat when I "rediscover" them 6 months or a year later.

  3. Patrick A Monday, August 20, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    I wrote a piece on cigar variety vs. cigar loyalty back in October:

    Figured it was worth pointing out since it hits on some of the same concepts.

  4. Jimmy R Monday, August 20, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    buying by the box is pretty much cost prohibitive for me. However one of the great pleasures of life for me is going to my humidor (small as it is) and choosing what I'd like to enjoy. I've got four or five different cigars that I really, really like and choosing between them is like choosing a favorite child. I work nights, so my smoke time is usually in the morning. A nice, smooth cigar, a good cup of coffee and the morning paper and I'm set for an hour or so to get the day going.

    Cigars are definitely to be savored. This is why I generally don't smoke them when I'm driving or doing anything else that requires a modicum of concentration. I like to relax when I'm smoking, and there are few things I enjoy like kicking back for a while with a good cigar. If I don't have an hour to devote to doing nothing, I wait until I do. Anticipation is half the fun!

  5. George E. Monday, August 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I heard from Professor Meyvis who, alas, isn't a cigar smoker. But he did give his imprimatur to my smoking recommendation: "I'm not a cigar smoker, but as far as I can tell, your inference about it being better to buy singles rather than an entire box is correct. Of course, you could also buy the box and force yourself to wait a long time before smoking the next one – so if you have enough self-control, that would also work to reduce adaptation and increase enjoyment."