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Monday 20 July 2015

Famous Pipe Smokers

Today's famous pipe smoker was really really fucking famous for smoking a pipe.  So famous, in fact, that he got a whole style of pipe named after him.

He also apparently did some stuff during WWII.

Yup, its Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Now here's the thing:  I'll leave it to others to decide whether he was a great military commander or not, or whether his politics were sound or not, or whether he was batshit crazy or not.  But I will, for my part, tell you this:  his favorite pipe is a shitty, shitty pipe.

NOT, mind you, because its a corncob.  Corncob pipes are actually pretty great.  They're one of the least expensive pipes you can buy, and yet a corncob will definitely smoke BETTER than a briar pipe of up to three times the same price.  The "Missouri Meerschaum" is a magnificent invention.   A decent briar pipe costs at least $75; spend any less than that on a wood pipe and you're almost guaranteed to get a shitty experience.  But a good corncob costs between $10-25, and smokes wonderfully.  This is so consistently true that while I recommend someone serious about taking up pipes to bite the bullet and spend that $75-150, if someone is on a really limited income, or is not really sure yet whether pipe smoking is something they want to seriously engage in, I will definitely recommend that they get a nice corncob (like the ones in the link above) rather than a cheap briar.

But here's the problem: MacArthur made the "MacArthur" style of corncob so famous that almost everyone who considers getting a corncob wants to get that pipe, his pipe, the one in the photo.  And it's pretty much the worst possible model of corncob-pipe you could possibly get.

If you look at it, you'll see that the MacArthur is really thin and really tall.  That's not a good model for a pipe, and it's especially bad for a beginner.  The main problem a beginner at pipes has is how to pack it and light it so that it's easy to puff on and will stay lit for relatively long periods of time; the most frustrating experience for a newcomer to the hobby is to have a pipe that keeps clogging  or keeps going out.  And a tall thin pipe bowl is the very best way for those exact problems to happen.

So take my word for it, kiddies:  try a corncob, but make sure it's NOT a "MacArthur"!  I would suggest something more along the lines of the "diplomat", "Mark Twain", or "morgan" from that website; the shorter and more squat the better.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Beverwyck


  1. I'm gonna go ahead and assume MacArthur knew what kind of pipe to smoke.

  2. A special variety of corn is grown to make corncob pipes.