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Letters to the Editor


11:14am, June 5, 2009

Tobacco for adults, cocoa for kids

I was interested in the report of cacao-beverage use by people of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico as early as A.D. 1000 (“Hot chocolate, with foam please,” SN: 2/28/09, p. 14). In the late ’50s, I and others at the Philip Morris Research Center looked at pipe samples from the Four Corners area (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah) dating from about A.D. 900. The pipes were submitted by archaeologists from the University of Arizona who wanted to know if tobacco had been used.

Initially, microscopy showed plant structures similar to tobacco and also possibly corn silk. Having seen physical evidence for tobacco, we proceeded chemically by extracting, back extracting and looking for evidence of nicotine. Paper chromatographic examination showed nicotine in some but not all samples and we published a short note in Science (Gager, F.L.; Johnson, V.C.; Holmes, J.C. Science. October 14, 1960). Over a pe

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