Explore the Origins, Evolution, and Significance of Rolling Papers Throughout History
The first people to use tobacco are thought to be the Aztecs and the Mayans, it is said that the mayans in particular are known to have used the inner bark of the tree called “amatl” to wrap tobacco and other herbs for smoking. This bark was pounded into thin sheets and used as a makeshift rolling paper. When Spanish explorers observed the use of tobacco by the indigenous tribes of the Caribbean, these two great discoveries would begin a globe trotting journey. But it is in Alcoy, Spain that the humble rolling paper begins its journey to mass production.
This ancient town, renowned for its artisanal paper making skills, introduced “mould-made paper” in the 8th century—a durable and textured surface that emulated handmade paper. Leveraging their expertise, local manufacturers combined necessity and innovation to invent rolling papers, forever changing the smoking landscape.
Evolution and Innovations
Early rolling papers were crafted from hemp and other textiles. Originally sold as large sheets, smokers had to cut and fold them into squares for rolling. In 1765, Father Jaime Villanueva Estingo introduced the idea of pre-cutting and pre-packaging, streamlining the process. The French played a significant role in the rolling paper game, with soldiers returning from Spain in the 16th century, bringing back rolled tobacco that eventually led to the adoption of the term “cigarettes” in 1830.
Industry Advancements and Iconic Brands
The concept of “interleaving” revolutionized rolling papers, with Paris-based companies perfecting the technique in 1894. Zig-Zag, founded by Maurice and Jacques Braunstein, gained fame with their horizontally folded “z” shaped papers and introduced the iconic Zig-Zag Man mascot. In Spain, Rizla introduced flavored papers in 1906, while Papeleras Reunitas formed a rolling paper consortium in Alcoy in 1934. These developments, along with ownership changes among popular brands, expanded the customer base, attracting smoking aficionados worldwide.
Rolling Papers in Popular Culture
The 1960s and 70s witnessed the growing popularity of smoking herbs, particularly cannabis, as it became intertwined with various music and cultural movements. Rolling papers became a symbol of identity and lifestyle for vipers, beatniks, and hippies. The Zig-Zag Man found his way onto counterculture flyers and posters, leaving an indelible mark on arts and entertainment. Artists like Cheech & Chong incorporated rolling paper branding into their projects, further cementing its presence in comedy and pop culture.
Rolling Papers Today: Mr. Dew Dab’s Legacy
As counterculture becomes more mainstream, upstart brands like Mr. Dew Dab embrace the opportunity to leave their mark. Inspired by centuries of innovation, we honor the traditions, imagination, and rebellious spirit that led to the invention of rolling papers. Our organic hemp papers, crafted with natural gums, pay homage to history while incorporating modern twists and futuristic craftsmanship. Join us on this journey as we strive to become someone’s favorite brand, create a lasting impact, and carry on the legacy of the world’s first smoking accessory—the humble rolling paper.