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Tobacco Institute

That Mysterious Ingredient "Deer Tongue" [Tobacco Reporter, Article Entitled "That Mysterious Ingredient Deer Tongue", a Plant Additive for Tobacco. (C)]

Date: Oct 1966
Length: 3 pages
TIMN0072947-TIMN0072949
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Type
PUBLISHED DOC
Site
Cipollone: Kloepfer Files
Alias
T015660-T015662
Request
Mn1-128
Box
030
Author
Montgomery, F.A. 1
Litigation
Minnesota AG
Date Loaded
05 Jun 1998
UCSF Legacy ID
kax92f00

Annotations

1. Montgomery, F.A. Author
  • Affiliation:

    Tobacco Reporter

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Page 1: kax92f00
T hat M ysterious I ngredient "Deer 1 ()()J.ri R F4 Tongue" by Fronk A. Montgomery, Jr. a . OLZR TONGYt 'IC1ciR FILLING BURLAP 3ACr With the coming of summertime to the southeastern United States, a small army of rural folk takes to the coastal woodlands for the annual harvest of the leathery, aromatic leaf of Trfliss odo.atiuima, commonly known as the "deer- tongue" plant. Bands of industrious pickers, ranging from a single indi- vidual to often a dozen or more, roam the woods eacb day to gather the leaves that for as long as some of the oldest can remember have represented a ready source of estzz money. OQR TONGUE KAlfT So mucb in demand ss this little plant that it seems there is scarcely e.er enough to go around. In fact, over the years a sort of standing joke among pickers has been that in mosr seasons there are more buyers than dees- tongue in the deer-tongue country. Although cobrcco manu- f actures seem rduccmt to m7 so• they aP y are more than a little responsible for the steady marker that his for a century and more existed for deer-tongue leaves. For while considerable poundage is used in cosmeua and drug preparations, moat deer-tongue apparently f inds its way into manufactured tobacco produca Snuff makers socount for a lot of it, but just about every time anybody takes a chew of tobacco, smokes a pipe, or puffs on a ciguette, be is more than likely contributing his bit to the demsod for. deer- tongue leaf. Tobacco products, reasonably enough, contain deer- tongue because coumarin, the active ingredient in the leaf, serves to enhance and, above all, '•fiz' to a wpab degree the natural caste, flavor and aroma of the various cob.co~ types used in a wide variety of blends and mistures SometiaKs 14 0072947 TIMN Wild "deer tongue" has long been an ingredient in many tobacco products made both in the United States and abroad. Manu f acturers, h o sv e v e r, are somewhat secretive about its use. Although agents f or man y o f the companies segular,l y purchase the plant f rom the rural f olk who collect it, only one o f all major tobacco manu- facturers contacted by the authar would say that it used "deer tongue" in its products or the coumarin deer tongue yields. This is possibly because of the competitive nature o f product f ormulas, or because the plant has been legally banned as "toxic" f or internal use - although tobacco products are speci f icall y exempted from ,che ban. the leaves are ground flour-fine before using, but they may also be used in granulated or shredded forms. Occasionallp, they are distilled and the exaacz, oleoresin of deer-tongue - a dark, vanilla scented, heavily viscous liquid that is almost C re coumarin - is employed as a"dip" for casing tobacco fore blending. The Indians, as might be expected, rtarted it all. For when the first settlers arrived in coastal areas of the south- east they found the natives mixing dried leaves of the plant with bitter domestic tobacco to make a better smoke. The settlers soon started doing the same thing. Both used the root and stem of deer-tongue in other ways, one being to brew a sort of cure-all tea. As a consequence, deer-congue in the early days, as now, was quite popular. Because the dried deer-tongue leaves have a strong smell of vanilla and because the little industry that grew up around them centered in North Carolini in the beginn~ng, the early settkrs generally referred to deer-{ ongue as "Cuolsne vanilL," and the plant was known - as it is upon occuion today - by this name. In fact, during the 7esrs just before and after the turn of the century, deer-eongue was nearly always listed in business transactions as "Qolias vaailli." In all probability, the makers of "shag" tob.cco were the f irst to utilize deer-congue in commetaal quantities in a manufacutred cobscco product, and imposang quantities of it were used ic this trade But, during one 7ear, 1871, old inventory records reveal tbat teas of tlousands of pounds of 'Grolina vanilla" were used in the popular Bull Durham smoking tobticco~~ ged ia North Gurolina at the time- 'I~ese same records indiate that the source of all this deer- tongue was a single North Carolina county ( Ne.v Hanover ), but accuaUy the leaf was gathered in several other soutb- 0 c7; 1pG 4 'rob.ao Reporter
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V eastern Tar Heel State counties as well. Since practically all of it wu bought and warehoused at W ilmington, N. C., and disaibuted from tluc point, New Hanover was considered to be the only producing county. Prior to 1952, sizeable quantities of the coumarin obtained from deer-tongue were used in the preparation of artificial vanilla, and such a flavoring was widely distributed. However, when a toxic nature of the substance was dis- covered a ban, backed up by law, was placed on its use in any kind of product for "internal" use. At the time, tobacco products were specifically exempted from the ban, the law- Y • makers ruling that they were not used internally. D:ez-tongue, or "dog-congue," as it is often called by pickers, is native of the coastal plain sectioas of the south- eastern states, from North Carolina to Florida, and westward along the gulf to Tezas. However, it is from North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida that practically all of the annual production comes. There are several differenc types, but Trilira odo*aitllsllJa is the most important. Since the plant is found exclusively in the southern United States, this area supplies the entire world. Deer-tongue, however. is not the only source of coumarin. The same substance is present in a number of other plants, in particular in the bean of the conka tree, native of tropical America. It is also avail- able in synthetic form. The plant is a perennial and in the more northerly areas all cop growth is killed by frost, so that the leaves are unavailable there much later than early November. It is widely distributed throughout the coastal pinelands, but it reaches its best development in places where the sandy land is moist. While it does not thrive where the water table is consistently too close to the surface, a favorite location for it is nevertheless on the well-drained margins of bays and other low ueu It does better on poor soils than rich. Pickers look for the dusters of basal leaves growing dose 0 U_ 5_ A, CANADA, RHODESIA LEAF TOBACCO 41 EUROPEAN OFFICE ANTWERP Otipbes / 1966 PICKERS "cure" their deer tongue in the sun, often using cheap poly- ethylene s h e e t s like this one to pro- tect the leaf from ground moisture. to the ground, which are usually well hidden in the thick wiregrass and low-growing shrubbery. These leaves, ranging in size from three to ten inches in length, are fairly heavy, leathery, smooth and of a light yellowish-green color when fully mature. The cool weather of late autu,mn often gives them an attractive purplish cast. Since they are actually shaped like a deer's tongue, such resemblance is supposed to be responsible for the common name, deer-tongue. The plant is also called dog-tongue, hound's-tongue, vanilla leaf, Carolina vanilla, prairie pine, blazing star, and so on. New leaves start growing in early spring and increase rapidly in size as the weather warms up. They reich a size (,'ontinued on page 17 15 TIMN 0072948
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Continued from pejt 15 suitable for gathering as early as late May aver most of its range, but little p~cking goes on until summer. Some buyers claim that imrnatuse lesves have less coumarin content than those that are mature, and they prefer pickers stay out of the woods until leaves are full gro.vn. The plant begins to send up a central flower stalk in- mid-summer and the pretty, richly-purple flower appears about the end of August or early September. Although fully mature leaves are preferred by the trade, the wild harvest begins to some extent a,s soon as the plant's foliage reaches what pickers consider a fair size. But the woods over most of the South's deer-tongue region don't really see the pickers out in full force until July, which is partly because farm work is beginning to taper off then and rural folk have more time to devote to the deer-tongue harvest Most of the picking is done on a spare-time basis and often whole families will be found in the pine barrens looking for the leaf. Burlap bags, pulled along on the ground after the fashion of a cottonpicker's sack, are usually employed by pickers to hold the green leaves as they are stripped from the plant. Sometimes, the pine straw, grass and other foreign matter are separated from the leaves as they are picked; again, such trashy material may be removed after the deer-tongue is carried in at the end of the day's picking. In any event, it is a job chac must be done, for buyers look with disfavor upon trashy leaves. Now and then, pickers will arrange with a buyer to accept the green leaves, in which case the buyer does the curing. Others, and they are in the big majority, attend to the curing themselves. This is most often accomplished by simply spreading the leaves out in the open in a dry, clean place and letting the sun do the job. Cheap polyethylene sheets are finding increasing usage among pickers as a suit- e able protection against ground moisture in drying locations Much of the green weight of the leaf is lost in curing. If a dried product of the best quality is desirable - in par- ticular as to color - the curing process should be carried our indoors in a well-ventilated structure of some kind. To pre- vent molding, the leaves, regardless of where they're dried, must be turned at least a couple of times a day and, if cured in the open, taken in when the sun goes down. When fully cured, deer-tongues will crunch easily in the hand. Before being ready for sale, the brittle leaves are "put in order" by leaving them spread out in the damp night air, much the same as tobacco. This also adds weight to the leaves, and a frequent complaint among buyers is that the 20 per cent moisture content they like in the leaves (to minimize danger of molding when they're baled ) is too often exceeded by overly ".veight{onscious" deer-tongue gacherers. Marketing the dried leaves is quite uniavolved- Pickers • 1Ne are eager to serve you ... cable or write for samples and quotations -_- our modern redrying and storage facilities plus experienced personnel guarantee your satisfaction_ NORTH STATE TOBACCO COMPANY, INC LEAF TOBACCO DEALERS, BUYERS, PACKERS & EXPORTERS fUaUAr•VAR![ilA, N- C 271Zk U_SA • Cab1e_ -TlORTNSTATIE° Oceoba / 1966 -rU() 15 O:z r, ; simply .vair until they have a few pounds on hand and then stuff it in to.vbsgs and aury it off to the nearest buyer. There it is weighed and paid for on the spot. Now and then a family group will accumulate as much as several hundred pounds of the leaf before selling it, but most of it is disposed of in quantities of far less than 100 pounds. Buyers also travel the countryside and call directly upon pickers to get whatever amount they might have on haad at the time. From the dealer the deer-tongue may be shipped directly to users in bales of about 200 pounds each, or it may be ground or powdered first- While most of the firms dealing in crude botanicals for the drug industry also handle deer-tongue, there are buc two or three really big buying centers for thre product in the entire southeast.' One is at Brunswick, Ga., and the other at Richmond, Virginia. Wilmington, N. G, in the early days the chief distribution point for deer-tongue leaves is now. comparatively speaking, a minor ma,Ckec As in the case of tobacco manufacturers as a whole, it is seldom chat anyone engaged in the deer-tongue business cares to discuss it, so that few accurate data relating to the little industry are readily available. However, it would probably be safe to say that an average of some four to five million pounds of deer-tongue leaves havre been harvested annually in the southeast over the past few years. Just what proportion of the annual harvest winds up in manufactured tobacco is a moot questioa There apparently is a fair-sized foreign market for leaf, too. Attempts to grow deer-tongue under c:ontrolled condi- cions have been made from time to time, but have not met with much success. Most e:perimenters seem to have quickly concluded that in the case of deer-congue nature is a more efficient producer. As a result buyers and users remain completely dependent upon more or less unorganized picking practices for the quantities of the leaf they must have. ~~, ~ Y7O y~ars`expet'~encs ~iri thi~richeet~ ~=- 7- ~ ~ "~J"' c-l:v ea in 2he woridt,~:: tobacco-grow ng ar _ 1 ; ? ~ 17 TIMN 0072949

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