What would you do for a Grape Backwood? A post on @officialhollywoods Instagram had stoners in a frenzy by posing that simple question. But why? There's a cult following of Backwoods flavors unavailable in the United States.
We're talking about Vanilla, Grape, Banana, and Wild Rum. You can't find these flavors anywhere — and there's a reason.
Please don't ask to hit my backwood on Friday this is some exotic not no reg
— Bless Up (@Brima_FTB) August 29, 2017
For newbies, 'Woods — as they're called by pros — are tobacco leaf wraps that put Swishers and papers to shame. They're just so smooth. So real. So authentic. It's no surprise the hip-hop community fucks with them heavily. My first real come-up on these exotics was when Lacy from Street Execs sent me a care package. I was honored by the tremendous gesture.
What I quickly found out, though, was I need to learn how to roll — Backwoods specifically. There's definitely an art to it.
It wasn't until the All Def LA show that I realized there are levels to this. Backstage with Nessly, a member of his entourage was rolling some Vanilla Backwoods. I was floored. They gave me life and are my new favorite.
Houston rapper Sauce Walka states, “The exotic smoke is the smoothest way. This is not the joke. It's clean and pure — the best smoke ever going up.”
Some kid just offered me 40$ for 1 grape backwoods hahahah happy 420 I got everytype of backwood they make hit ya boy up for those exotic flavors
— lilpharmacy (@cashdied) April 20, 2018
And then I came across the Vanilla and Grape flavors and immediately wondered why they weren't more prominent. As soon as I found out they were illegal, it all made sense. These were a rare, unique product that only certain plugs have access to. While you can pull up to any cigar shop and cop the original Backwoods, these special flavors range from $6 to $100 a pop. And that's if you can locate them at all.
First off, the FDA does not play games when it comes to anything tobacco-related. Whether it's the type of flavor, the name, the verbiage, or anything on the packaging — cigar flavors are very tightly regulated. For Backwoods, whenever they want to roll out a new flavor, it requires a long, tedious process that's heavily regulated.
A couple of years ago, Backwoods realized they were being denied all these potential flavors that otherwise would seem reasonable to release. Each time they submitted a new request, it cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, which cannibalized the company's revenue.
I smoked a Grape Vanilla and Banana Backwood today . Nobody can take this away from me 😩😭
— Six0Breezo (@600Breezy) December 6, 2016
The simple fruit-based flavors were being rejected on the grounds that they would attract children. So, Backwoods promised not to release flavors that attract kids in the U.S. This is how flavors like Honey Bourbon, Russian Cream, and Chocolate Stout came to fruition. With these alcohol- themed flavors, the company could argue they were clearly for adults and not anyone younger than 21.
These flavors not only had a high likelihood of being accepted, but also that there's a sense of class and sophistication that comes with smoking a Russian Cream Backwoods.
But back to the exotic flavors. Most people can't get them in the U.S. Sour Matt, freelance creative director and underground artist, told me, “It's kind of a flex. If you pull up and got those, everyone in the room knows you are the plug.”
Anyone who has these are guaranteed to grab some attention from veteran smokers. You definitely have some connections if you're holding some rare 'Woods.
Last night i had fruit punch haze in a rare grape backwood...shit was astronomical 🔭
— Upscale Vandal (@Upscale_Vandal) December 24, 2017
So who's the source? Most people get them from Greece, France, or Australia, as friends in other countries will send them to their American comrades.
Atlanta rapper and Backwoods advocate Bali Baby puts it best when he said “I think the exotic Backwoods make you feel like you're in a different country. Vanilla is my favorite, they smoke the smoothest and don't even feel like you're smoking a Backwood.”
Houston Sauce guru Sosamann also explained his love for exotic Backwoods flavors.
“They rare. You can't find them anywhere. You gotta know where they're at. I like that. Sometimes you get burnt out on the regular ones. The vanilla or grape ones give weed a little different flavor. I love them whenever I do find some.”
In my experience (a top-secret source gifted me some exotics for this story), my first taste of the Vanillas took me right back to the first time I tried Backwoods — but it was way smoother. There's something about vanilla-flavored anything that just adds to the entire smoking experience. We smoked right outside a cigar shop on Sunset Boulevard near The Roxy. The best part of the experience was having the cops pull up mid-session, only to realize they weren't for us. That's two close calls for me recently.
In panic mode, we quickly threw the exotic Backwoods to the ground and crushed it with our feet. Turns out, the cops were entering the bar next door for a drink. What a waste. I was very lit for the rest of the evening, though, so mission accomplished.
Correction 5/07/2019: Matthew Dembo, a.k.a. "Sour Matt," was referred to as the creative director for Backwoods. Dembo was a contracted in service of Backwoods for a period of time, but was not a creative director. This article has been updated to correct this error.