Frog Morton and the Curious Tins

L1000364.jpg Frog Morton collection ... Click image for larger file.

Frog Morton line of pipe tobacco … Click image for larger picture.

Frog Morton is a line of distinctive pipe tobaccos from McClelland Tobacco Company, of Kansas City. Among pipe tobacco aficionados, McClelland enjoys a deserved reputation as a purveyor of fine specialty or “boutique” tobaccos, such as their Frog Morton line, or the strong and aptly-named blend “Mississippi Mud”.

The History Channel did a 2006 special on Tobacco. You can always catch a re-run. They included a sequence on pipe tobaccos. History Channel singled out McClelland’s KC packaging facility and delightfully imaginative product line-up. I was pleased to see both the Frog Morton and Mississippi Mud brands featured.

The Frog Morton line consists of four blends (that I know of):

  • Frog Morton – “an exceptionally rich, smooth and dark Latakia mixture for the pipe”
  • Frog Morton on the Bayou – “Smooth and dark and calming, like the waters of the bayou, a relaxing Balkan blend”
  • Frog Morton on the Town – “An elegant, smooth Oriental blend”
  • Frog Morton Across the Pond – “A cool-smoking, fragrant blend enhanced with Syrian Latakia.”

It helps a little to de-code the descriptions in tobacconist jargon.

“Latakia” is a Syrian blend originally produced in the Syrian town of Latakia.  Dark black, earthy and strong, Latakia smells vaguely like a calamine preparation. Smoking it straight is usually considered over the top; it is a blending tobacco.

“Oriental” seems to refer to a quaint colonial notion of the British Empire that the orient consisted of the region of Turkey, Syria and such – what we today call the “Mideast”.

The “Balkans” refer to the mountains and peninsula of southeastern Europe, including Serbia and Turkey.

“On the Bayou” is heavily flavored with Louisiana Perique, a tobacco concoction prepared by soaking tobacco like rotting leaves in a puddle, until black, and then compressed, dried and flaked. The preparation is actually much like that of Latakia in the old world. The results is an earthier mixer. Used judiciously, it also makes for a pleasant and distinctive smoke.

I have used small quantities of Perique in my own earlier blends of “Alex’s Mix”. I also tried adding Latakia to the blend, but, finding the Latakia overpowers the Perique, ended up using only Latakia in my mix.

I find all of the Frog Morton line to be pleasant smokes, and generally will smoke one or the other as a dessert or after-dinner treat. I do prefer the original “plain” Frog Morton, which is not quite as complicated as others in the Frog Morton line, and probably will stick to this original Frog when re-ordering.

I don’t have the lingo to answer the tobacconist question “but what does it taste like?”  What does a honeydew melon taste like? At some point, you just have to buy one and try it. I can tell you that my own mixes (25% Latakia) are pleasant and medium-strong, sweet without a hint of artificial sweetness. and draw enthusiastic unsolicited compliments from perfect non-smoker strangers.

Of the four “Frog” blends, then, it being noted that I already lean toward a less complex Latakia-based blend, I find the Perique treatment interesting but a little out of balance for my palate and sense of smell (you can smell the Perique in the can). Of the Syrian and “Oriental” blends, I know much less, but for my taste the verdict is the same as for “On the Bayou” – interesting, but I still prefer the original Frog.

Frog Morton, then, would be stronger without being harsher, a pleasure to the very bottom of the bowl, a blend I could heartily recommend pipe smokers try when they are looking for something familiar but pleasantly different at the same time.

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5 thoughts on “Frog Morton and the Curious Tins

  1. I thought Mississippi Mud was a C&D blend. I love the C&D MM, I didn’t know if I should keep an eye open for the McClelland version! I must agree, Frog Morton is a treat any time. Thanks for the good article.

  2. Brad, you’re quite correct; Mississippi Mud is Cornell & Diehl. The Frog Morton blends are McClelland. I had to check my tins to make sure. At one time I was so sure both incredible labels had to be made by the same manufacturer, I lost a gentleman’s bet on it. I still smoke both, evenings, and every time I decide I have a favorite among the two, I change my mind the next time I smoke the other one! Thanks for straightening out the record!

  3. Frog Morton and the Curious Tin is my favorite brand i like its taste better.

  4. When was the frog morton line first introduced? Love the original, haven’t tried the rest yet, and not interested in something that isn’t going to be around…

  5. I saw nothing in a quick check of Google, and don’t know how long Frog Morton’s been around, but I can tell you it’s not one of those “Christmas specials” that disappears after a season. And I believe McClelland, the maker in Kansas City, has been around since dirt. Can another reader give us a better fix on when this line was introduced?

    I did learn that the brand name “Frog Morton” seems to be a knockoff of a town named Frogmorton, in The Shire, which turns out to be a place name in Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

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