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What Millennials Don’t Know: Where Hookahs Came From

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Hookah, also known as shisha, has become quite popular among modern youth and is picking up among millennials throughout the world. Even though it has only recently become popular, hookah has been around for centuries.

Middle Eastern Beginnings

The hookah originated around Pakistan and India at an unknown date but then made its way to Persia later in the 16th century. The original Indian design had a base made out of coconuts and was rather rudimentary. However, the Persians took the designs and improved it greatly, adding their own style to it.


Hookah later made its way into Turkey, where it gained massive popularity among the nobles and intellectuals. It was a common feature at nobles’ halls. It also saw further improvement in its design, evolving into the kind of hookah design we know and love today.

Makes Tobacco Less Harsh

The advent of the hookah also basically changed the way we prepare tobacco. Before it came around, tobacco would be taken without any flavors added to it. However, with the hookah, sugar and honey would be added to make it a little more pleasant to smoke in the beginning. Later, dried fruit pulp would be mixed with the tobacco to add hookah tobacco flavors and make the smoke pleasant to draw in. The most popular fruits in use were grapes, apples, cherries and lemons.

Today hookah has proven to be popular around most of the world ― even more popular than vaping in some places. Shisha smoking has become a key aspect of many social activities around the world, and shisha bars are slowly becoming as commonplace as regular bars. Hookah smoking is often used as a pretext to bring both friends and strangers together at gatherings where they can discuss such things as current affairs, religion, politics and other intellectual topics. With all the modern flavors available, there is likely a shisha flavor for you, no matter what your preferences are. The hookah has become so optimized for tobacco in many ways that to use it to smoke anything else is often considered bad taste.

A Water Pipe By Any Other Name

Depending on the region or culture, the water pipe that we use to smoke tobacco is known by different names. Shisha, for example, comes from the Persians who adopted it from the Indians. It is a derivative of the word “Shishe,” which in Persian means “vessel.” That is a reference to the vessel that is at the base of the hookah. As for the word “hookah,” it comes from the Persian word “Nargil,” which means “coconut” in reference to the original coconut hookahs that came out of India.

Hookah smoking spread from India, Persia and Turkey to the rest of the East and eventually, in the modern day, found its way to the rest of the world. The West, in particular, has developed quite a fondness for it. Although the culture that is associated with the Hookah is at least many centuries old, it has won the hearts and minds of the modern youth, many of them in high schools and universities.

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