As many of our friends are aware, ‘Thanksgiving Day’, a four-ounce pressed cake has been a tradition since 1939. Year after year, we make it available in a limited capacity starting on November first. This effort keeps us tied to our roots when Major Joseph Peretti, father of Robert Peretti, set forth to blend Peretti’s Burley and English mixtures.
The Major wanted to create a blend with the essence of the holiday season, and after countless trials, a mixture of 7 different tobaccos blended with a balance of dark rum and fruit juices was concocted and pressed into breakable 4 ounce cakes. This process has not changed since the first batch was taken from the press.
It starts with Burley. This classic tobacco acts as a platform to which we can add our formula that gives the final product its distinctive flavor and aroma. Once the Burley has taken in the rum and fruit juices, it is blended with a number of other tobaccos and there we have a mixture that is ready to be smoked, but is not yet ‘Thanksgiving Day’.
We still use the same antique hand press today that was used in 1939. Its four jigsaw-like racks have been repaired time and time again so that it can continue to serve us, albeit rebelliously. To begin pressing, the blender must disassemble the racks one at a time, and orient four blocks of wood within each rack that will act as spacers for each cake. Once the spacers are in place, the mixture is weighed out and placed into each of the five reservoirs and topped with squares of plastic to keep the tobacco from clinging to the wood that will sit on top of it. Once the spacing blocks, tobacco and plastic are in place, the blender seats a piece of wood with four jutting, press-like blocks atop the blend, and places the re-assembled rack into the press. This process is repeated four times for a single batch. After all the racks have made there way to the press, pressure is applied.
The tobacco will remain in the press for several days and the screw that applies pressure to the racks will be tightened periodically. After enough time has passed, the blender will relieve the racks of their stressful duty and dissemble them to remove the twenty cakes. The result is a perfectly square and firm, but breakable treat that is almost the ‘Thanksgiving Day’ cake we wait all year for.
These cakes are packaged and allowed to rest for at least 20 days. During this time, the tobacco darkens and mellows for a rich, smooth and lingering experience that begs to be smoked bowl after bowlful.
Tradition has always been important here, especially during a time where an intentional pause during the day has been forgotten. ‘Thanksgiving Day’ is not mass-produced and rushed out the door. It is carefully and painstakingly crafted one batch at a time. Enjoy it while it’s here.
Available starting November 1st.