The Young family of Paulina produce an herbal chew in four all-natural blends to help people curb smokeless tobacco use

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Aaron Young stands in front of stacks of his four blends of all-natural herbal chew.

For six decades the Young family raised a variety of produce and livestock on their farm in Dewey, Ariz., just outside Prescott.

Those very same products were sold to the public through a country store, located on the farm.

Beginning in the 1980s, Young’s Farm became a popular family recreational destination when attractions such as a pumpkin patch, hayrides, festivals, a restaurant, and gift shop were added to the venue.

All that ended in 2006, when state-imposed groundwater rules left them with no choice but to sell out, and so they moved to a new ranch — and a new life — just outside Paulina, in eastern Crook County.

They left everything behind — everything that is except for Young’s Chew.

Young’s Chew, as Aaron Young explained, is an all-natural alternative to regular chewing tobacco, designed to help people quit the addiction. He said it’s been around a long time and has a proven track record.

“My product is a base of dried grape leaves,” he explained, “and a lot of other different ingredients, all natural, anything from red clover blossoms to orange peel. Basically it's all natural ingredients that bind together, that you can either mix with tobacco, or you can use on its own, to provide an oral sensation.”

A passion to help people quit smokeless tobacco led Young’s uncle, Stan, to begin development of the chew in the mid-1980s.

At first, he tried using the blossoms of red clover.

“He really thought red clover blossoms were the thing,” Young said. “It ended up that the red clover blossom-based chew wasn’t as good as the grape leaf-based chew.”

It was first sold as a novelty item at the Young’s Farm store, he said. Later, it was offered online.

“When we moved up to this cattle ranch in Oregon, we just continued with that business online.”

Today, Young’s Chew comes in four blends.

The Classic blend is dominated by cinnamon. Wintergreen is blended from peppermint and wintergreen oil. Licorice root and anise produce a mild flavor in the Licorice blend. The boldest is Ginger Red, with a distinctive ginger flavor.

One can use Young’s Chew to quit tobacco cold turkey, but Young said he prefers what he calls the titration method.

“It’s mixing and weaning. Just like you’d wean anything, you start with just a little bit on your tobacco product, just to kind of get your flavors going. We have a wintergreen, and you’d mix that with your wintergreen Skoal. And we have a classic. You’d mix that with Copenhagen. You just fool around trying to get things to work.”

In about four weeks, he said, one should be comfortable with a mix of three-quarters of Young’s and only a quarter of tobacco. From there, a person could continue with a little bit of tobacco, or just quit.

Young said that although his Paulina family still has a “very strong connection” with Young’s Chew, they recently decided to move its production back down to Arizona, under the management of a friend and former business associate, John Gaspar.

“I just wasn’t doing as good a job as I should,” Young said. “It was taking too much away from my cattle operations. I didn’t want to see it fall apart, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep it going myself.”

Gaspar said he and his wife, Kathy, took over the business about six months ago. Contrary to what some might think, making a good chew isn’t as easy as it would seem.

“It takes an effort. Kind of involved to make. Each batch has to sit for four to six months to season. It’s something that’s not easily made.”

They do everything, Gaspar said, including production, distribution, advertising, and Internet sales, and while he said they’re getting orders from all over the county, they still want to increase their retail presence.

“We hope to put it in more retail outlets, like smoke shops, and so forth.”

Young said that although he’s never used tobacco to the level of addiction, he understands what hard-core “dippers” go through, trying to quit.

“The success rate is usually determined by a doctor, or a fiance, or a mother, or somebody saying, ‘Your life’s going to change if you can’t get this under control.’ Sometimes there's personnel conviction as well, but addiction is addiction. It doesn’t matter what it is.”

Peer pressure adds another dimension to the process of quitting — a dilemma for which Young offered a solution.

“It seems a little bit silly, but I tell them to go ahead and keep their can of Skoal or whatever, and put this stuff in for the majority of it, because then you don’t have to share with people what you’re doing. It can be kind of a personal thing. Sometimes that peer pressure can be a real ruiner of a good effort.”

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