10/06/2010
em Entrevistas - por: 3 comentários

First I would like to thank Eric’s attention by¬†interview and all the details beyond congratulating him on all¬†their effort, contribution and way of thinking.¬†Thanks,
Eric!

First question: Who’s Eric Hofmann ?

I‚Äôm a regular guy, more or less. I worked for others in industry, Organic Chemistry, Gas phase chemistry, nuclear chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Process Development and I decided I‚Äôd rather start my own thing where I can meet real people and not have to hang around scientific types too much. My favorite soda is Mountain Dew, my favorite meat is duck, I play Chess, backgammon, the German card game Skat and a number of other board and card games. I like Samba music also. My favorite hemisphere on the whole planet is the Southern Hemisphere. 🙂

When and why you started selling hookah products?

I was encouraged to make them by some business associates. The selection of flavors wasn’t very good or very expansive so I wanted to improve on the whole process. My nemesis was apricot. I wanted to make a much better apricot flavor.

Why the name “Tangiers” ? a port city of Morocco?

At the time, there were two main regions producing tobacco. The Sham and the Gulf. Gulf tobaccos are blacker, stronger and normally smoked without foil on. Sham style tobaccos are what we normally associate with most hookah tobacco in our hobby now. I wanted to make something more “in the middle” in terms of texture and quality. I wanted an Arabic name, but one that wasn’t associated with the Sham or the Gulf. That leaves Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Tunisia is quite small and Algeria kinda has a dark association with it in the United States, which leaves Morocco. Of the major, well known cities, Casablanca has a movie associated with it. Rabat sounds like a disease rabbits get, Marrakesh has a song associated with it. Tangiers is sonorous and rolls off the tongue nicely. So Tangiers was the one.

Who makes Tangiers shisha?

We do. All here in San Diego, California. USA. Its made of almost all American components, the kosher vegetable glycerine we use comes from The Pacific Rim, but otherwise all US-products.

Where is produced Tangiers shisha?

San Diego, CA United States of America.

Was it difficult to begin producing the Tangiers shisha or you already knew how?

I had some idea of how to make it, in a general sense from other tobacco manufacturing principles, but the actual process took many experiments and much perfection. New flavors are all still made using a many times painstaking process of perfecting the flavor. The number of experiments can range anywhere from 2-60+ experiments. Maraschino Cherry and Cola were two particularly difficult flavors to get to work right.

Why Tangiers is a wet shisha ?

It appears wet from the glycerine. The water content is fairly low which actually makes it appear wetter. In some countries, the tax laws make a dry tobacco more attractive to consumers and they add their own glycerine. In the United States this isn’t as much of an issue, so we make a “ready to go” product.

When do you began to produce Tangiers shisha?

First experiments occurred in 2001. We began selling in 2005.

What are the characteristics of Tangiers shisha?

A silky texture to the smoke.  A more natural and full flavor, that is rounder than other brands.

Why Tangiers shisha is not called as a Premium?

I leave that to the buyer to determine for themselves. I have always felt proclaiming a brand to be premium, or the best, or best-selling, or longest lasting or whatnot to be immodest.

Why Tangiers shisha is better if exposed to air?

Since the water content is low and Tangiers uses no preservatives, artificial colors or additives, the tobacco gains and loses moisture based on the humidity of the air. When the tobacco is sealed in its package, the humidity level of it is “locked” in until its opened. If the humidity that it was made at is substantially different than the humidity where its opened, it will benefit from taking 4-24 hours to get closer to the humidity where it is opened at.

How many flavors of Tangiers are there?

Currently, between Lucid, Noir and F-Line there are around 100 varieties. All the flavors ever made by Tangiers number well over 120.

Do you have plans for new flavors?

Yes, we are releasing 8+ new flavors in the next couple of weeks. We will be releasing another 4-6 Lucid Flavors in a month or so.

How do you got the idea of creating Phunnel bowl?

I wanted to try making a liquid-only type product without tobacco and developed a new bowl for it. I tried the new bowl for regular tobacco, thinking that it would work better and was surprised at how well it actually did work and started making them en masse.

Is Phunnel bowl only good for wet shisha?

I would imagine that wet shishas would be the only type of tobacco that would benefit from the phunnel bowl, but I never tried a dry shisha in it though.

Why painting Phunnel Bowl in two colors?

Its prettier. 🙂

Why does Phunnel have a long base? for innovation, better cooling or improve management?

For gas-fluid flow characteristics principally, however it certainly makes it easier to remove and handle the bowl when its hot.

Phunnel bowl today is known worldwide. Here in Brazil everyone is dying to have one. Did you expected  this global repercussion?

Well, no. I’m daily amazed by all the friends, customers and supporters I’ve found in all corners of the Earth. I like to think of myself as a modest man and never would dare to think so many people could be fond of things that I’ve invented or created.  Its humbling to think of what I’ve created and what it means to people, in Brazil, or Afghanistan or Korea for that matter and I take people’s fondness of my products very seriously and look at it as a serious responsibility. I don’t believe a man can create something in the world without having some responsibility to the people that might buy it. I think too many manufacturers just make anything without any thought as to how well its going to taste or perform and whether a customer might be happy with it. They look at products as filling gaps to compete with other retailers and not the quality of the product. Some manufacturers really do have a lot of care and concern, but many are quite light in their regard.

What do you think about hookah Brazilian market?

All of us are tied together in hookah. Whether its Brazil or the United States or Great Britain, we are all connected in some human way. I don’t look at the hookah in terms of countries, but in terms of humanity. Its not Nobel Prize worthy, obviously, but somebody made an observation about the modern world that I felt deeply about. They said we have lost the drive to inspire ourselves. Hookah inspires me as a human and I hope it inspires other people, even in some small way. I have never seen the world as countries. Governments make up countries, but people are independent (or should see themselves in this way, in my opinion) and should see themselves as joined together in our march towards greatness and our own personal oblivions.

Is Tangiers phunnel made in US or do you import from China?

It is made in The United States of America. Despite my Globalist views, I think its important, as a citizen of The United States of America its my duty to make something better, something handmade, something substantial, something that is about the same price as having it made in China. I am not diminishing China’s accomplishments or industrial expansion, although I am slightly biased towards things made here in the United States, in Southern California specifically. It allows me to insure the quality to the customer is the best possible.

Why haven’t you patented the phunnel bowl?

That’s a complicated question. I don’t know Portuguese at all, but in English, we have a word: ambivalent. Many people in the United States misuse the word, but it means that you would have strong feelings in support of and strong feelings opposed to something that canceled each other out…as opposed to being neutral which meant you had no feelings on way or the other. I was quite ambivalent about patenting the phunnel bowl. On the one hand, I saw it as something that could be beneficial and if I didn’t patent it, people could make cheaper, lower quality knock-offs, which I would never consider making. I was opposed to this idea because it would reduce my profits from my invention, presumably and the quality people would be getting would be worse, on the other hand, if people didn’t have a lot of money, these cheaper knock-offs could be better so that more people could afford to buy something that used the idea of the phunnel.

Which is best: Vortex or Phunnel? Why?

I made many prototypes of phunnel bowls after my initial success with them. The bowl changed somewhat from its original design. Four earlier prototypes featured a sealed phunnel-top with holes on the sides of the phunnel. These exhibited the same problems as my early prototypes with cross-cut groves in the top of the phunnel. Shesha juice gets into it and gets cooked on and begins to buildup. This buildup gets larger and larger until it always interferes with the performance of the bowl. The one large hole, smooth-sided phunnel is my attempt to minimize the maintenance that the owner has to perform on it…or to make it easier. So from that, I would say that my phunnel bowl is what I think is the best of all things possible from much testing and work. From what I understand, Vortex bowls have the same buildup problem in the intake holes that I had from when I tried the idea, so I would think this makes the phunnel better in that regard. In terms of price, Vortex bowls are cheaper, so I guess it depends on what matters to the customer.

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