How did snuff and tobacco become so popular you ask?


Jean Nicot experimented with crushed tobacco leaves used as a snuff for curing migraine headaches. In 1560, Nicot gave a sample of this home remedy to Catherine de Medici who also suffered from chronic migraines. It was effective in relieving her headaches and the popularity of tobacco snuff grew among the aristocracy. In fact, people became so enthusiastic about its powers that tobacco became known as "Herba Medicea" or "Herba Catherinea".


Christopher Columbus brought a few tobacco leaves and seeds with him back to Europe, but most Europeans didn't get their first taste of tobacco until the mid-16th century when adventurers and diplomats like France's Jean Nicot - for whom nicotine is named - began to popularize its use. It was the Portuguese who did the most to convert the rest of the world, being the first to cultivate the tobacco plant outside of the Americas. Its introduction occurring around 1512. By 1558, snuff was on sale in the markets of Lisbon.


Fun Fact: In full growth, the tobacco plant stands as tall as a man. A scientist, Karl Von Line, counted 40,320 seeds in one pod, meaning a single plant had the potential to yield a million seeds. With all of these seeds, experiments were conducted to see if tobacco might be grown at home, thereby saving the costs of transportation from the West Indies. The results were disappointing; it was easiest to buy tobacco where it grew naturally.

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