...What does it all mean?
These refer to different cuts of the finished product. "Ribbon" cut tobacco is generally between 1/16" and 3/32" wide, and forms "strands" of varying lengths. "Shag" is just a very fine ribbon. In the US, "flake" refers to a small, irregularly shaped cut, with no dimension exceeding about 1/8" or so. But, there‘s another connotation, which will be presented shortly. "Plug," or sometimes "bar," is tobacco that is compressed under heat, steam and pressure into a large block. These blocks are sliced into the smaller bars or plugs. Tobacco in this form is very compact, and stores well. Plugs can be sliced thinly to form the other kind of "flake," also known as slices. Tobacco can also be spun into a "rope "or "lanyard." These can be sliced into thin, coin-like disks; the final product is sometimes called "spun-cut."
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