Even to a pathetic smoker, the world of chew is one of gauche depravity. As one who partakes of the Lucky Strikes whilst boozing, I don't understand why. There's little more disgusting than having the smell of a burning plant cling to your every pore, soil your clothing, and yellow your fingers.
Chew, on the other hand, only yellows your teeth, and soils your social reputation. Quite the fucking improvement, I must say.
One chew manufacturer has an iron-grip on the market
Unlike cigarettes, where selection is bountiful, here in the United States, one manufacturer monopolizes the chew market in a way that makes every Microsoft and Verizon exec crap his pants with glee. American Tobacco -- the godfather of the chew business. They sell Copenhagen, Rooster, and the ubiquitous Skoal brands, which, by my guess, are at least 90 percent of the market. Conwod Company produces my preferred brand, Kodiak. They also produce Xtreme, a debutant in the chew field.
As one who has tarnished his lip with every brand sold at the local Cigarette Outlet, I shall impart this nugget of knowledge: they all do the job. What doesn't do the job is the cheapass ghetto shit that one is tempted to purchase when it comes down to buying some dip, or doing laundry. Never settle for any of the bush league shit. They cost a hell of a lot less, but the quality is so substandard, it's a disgrace. If you wish to fatten your lip with a known carcinogen, at least have some dignity: get a decent can of chew.
The Nomenclature of Chew
Chew comes in two basic forms: fine cut, or snuff as it's sometimes called, and long cut. True snuff is for inhalation, but in this case snuff refers only to size of tobacco -- puny. Copenhagen bucks this trend by offering a mid-cut that splits the difference. Fine cut is pure shit. Don't bother. The stuff has the consistency of coffee grounds, and tends to find its way into every gap of your teeth possible -- from incisor to molar. Cleanup is a nightmare. I don't understand how one can chew it. The stuff is all over the mouth. Tame that chew! I stick with long cut.
If the can sitting on my desk is a good representative sample, long cut ranges from 2mm to 4mm shards, about .5mm thick -- like a mechanical pencil lead. Once in the lip, it stays put. That's what you want.
American Tobacco has a splendid color-coding system for their chews: silver topped cans contain fine cut, and gold-topped cans contain long cut. This is handy when the clerk hands you the wrong chew. You can accost her as she stares blankly at the rack. Yell "Gold top! GOLD TOP!"
A substandard chew, like Rooster or Red Seal, will have a wide variety of size in one can, neither long cut, nor fine cut. They also seem fond of filling the tin with stem pieces. That is not quality control, quality assurance.
An odd duck in the mess are Skoal Bandits. Unless you are in high school, or trying to hide this from your wife/girlfriend/employer, this is not recommended. Even if you are trying to hide it, better options exist. I'll explain this later.
Skoal Bandits have the tobacco in little teabag-like pouches, about 2cm long, and 1 cm across. The idea being that one can ditch the bag, having easy cleanup and none of the turf tooth that comes with normal chew disposal.
Not only do they have a shitty value, giving you precious little nicotine and tobacco, but the stuff in the bags is of such poor quality that I get pissed just thinking about it. I cut one open once, and the fucker was full of what looked like sand, sprinkled with chew. I had to stuff so many in my mouth just to get any buzz that my $4 can was gone in under three hours. This defeats the purpose. Perhaps they're good for weaning yourself, in the horrific event of quitting, but I've never tried that.
It's like a carcinogenic Baskin Robbins
As flavors go, the selection is rather simple: minty ones, and everything else.
In the Skoal line:
In the Copenhagen line:
Bourbon (only available in mid-cut)
Xtreme (which is technically it's own brand, but I include it here just to simply things).
Straight, Key, and Classic, among others, require a bit of explanation as to their flavor. Straight: a sweet, tangy mix that has a molasses flavor, spiced with a touch of mint. That's my best guess.
Key: Industrial Strength unflavored, dosed with a hefty shot of ammonia to increase its pH and enhance nicotine delivery. The taste and odor are offensive, even to a long-time chewer like me.
Classic: Unflavored tobacco. I see zero difference between Skoal Classic, and Copenhagen Classic.
Bourbon: A rather new entrant from Copenhagen, taking the idea of things like Tequiza or Desperados beer, and applying it to chew. It has a bourbon flavor. If one is trying to chew surreptitiously, avoid this at all costs. You will be mistaken for an alcoholic, as the smell in your cubicle will resemble that of a Jim Beam soaked drunkard.
Xtreme: Wintergreen flavor.
Ice: Same as Mint.
Among the mint family, the differences are subtle, but readily apparent once you throw a pinch in the lip. Mint is a peppermint flavor -- strongly peppermint. The other two, just as their names imply.
The perfect dip explained
Brand and flavor preference aside, there's only one-way to obtain a good dip: proper packing. If the chew is loose in the can, it will be loose in your mouth. You want that dirty wad packed tight. I do this:
Grab the tin of chew in your hand, holding its circumference with your middle finger and thumb, making a C shape. With your index finger relaxed on top, give the can two or three quick snaps. This does two things: the action of your wrist forces the chew along one edge, and the finger motion shakes frees the loose pieces from the side whereby they can become compacted. It also creates a thumping sound, announcing your addiction to the rest of the world.
Ritual is key here, just as with smoking. Think of this like packing your smokes. It establishes you as an initiate in the world of cancer and lymphoma.
Now the chew can be enjoyed.
I take rather large dips, by virtue of my addiction. Size is entirely a matter of personal preference, but for maximum effect, grab a dip about as large as the pad on your index finger. I tell people this because large people tend to have large hands, and therefore need a larger dip to obtain the proper effect, and vice versa.
Placement is key. Two locations work best: lower lip, right along the gum directly in front, or immediately opposite this on top. Putting a chew in your upper lip next to your incisors is only for when the lower lip has been chewed raw, and is too tender. I find that the upper lip is more sensitive, and therefore more effective for nicotine delivery, but it looks extremely base. Only do this in private. I'm doing this now, because you cannot see me. But in public, or on the jobsite, I opt for the more socially acceptable lower lip.
Any derivation of location has consequences. Failure to place the dip in the center will result in Chew Migration - a malady where the chew hops up over the teeth, and into the mouth at large. I hate the shit in my mouth, so I've learned to avoid this. Please, take my advice. You're not a ballplayer; so don't try the side mouth. That's a disaster waiting to happen. If you swallow your chaw, you will vomit.
Disposing of juices
Only the diehards swallow. Don't be a hero. Don't swallow. You will vomit.
A pop can with the top pushed in works well to spit into, and can be easily disposed of. I use a coffee cup sometimes, a mason jar in a jam, or a beer bottle if I'm hitting the sauce. At the movies, or in your cube at work, a fountain pop works best. Spit into the straw. This can be left on your desk, and it traps all the odors. Getting your technique just right so you don't overload the straw takes some practice, but this method is by far and away the incognito way to spit. It looks as if you're sipping some rather thick Coke.
Dechewifying your mouth
A moderate size dip will last about 30 minutes. You can go longer, but the flavor is gone quicker than with a piece of shitty bubble gum. I've yet to find an easy, clean method for doing this. With rare exception, I just grab the chaw out of my mouth and throw it into the sink, and rinse with some water. Some chew aficionados will use their lips and tongue to spit the chew out, but I find that this leaves a great deal of residue, and rinsing is still obligatory. Nevertheless, do be polite. I personally don't care if you drop the load into a drinking fountain, or restroom sink, but others might. Moreover, since they probably think you are an unwashed savage just by chewing, don't give them any ammunition.
It took me about a year to develop a hardcore psychological addiction. Cans cost from $3.50 to $4.50, depending on your locale. Though it's cheaper to purchase a log (10 cans in a roll), I find this practice too gauche and too shameful. I'd rather go quietly, one or two cans a time.