I’ve struggled with this article. I’ve been putting it off for weeks. Larry has been hounding me. Moe has been threatening me with all sorts of dire warnings. Still I’ve been fighting it. I know why. I just haven’t had the courage to write I feel. The simple truth is there is nothing new about XR snus except the labels. Sorry kids but there is no way to sugarcoat that fact......
Nick & Johnny Small Batch Licorice Slim White portion snus is a fantastic new addition to the line. It's so good in fact, I am considering forgiving them for discontinuing Nick & Johnny Black...
When Swedish Match AB launched General Tailored White Portion Snus in April of 2013, the main talking point was something new added to the snus: NATUFIBE®
It all started with one question. The answer to which led me deeper and deeper into a darkened, nuanced world in which translating Swedish to American and learning more about snus manufacturing kept leading to more questions. Here are the high points of what I’ve learned. The main reason I embarked on this quest was to correct the record. Natufibe has been reported as part of the portion material. I wasn’t sure that was correct and it kept gnawing at me until I got off my butt, or more accurately got on my butt, in front of my computer, and started digging .....
UPDATE 8 Dec 14: Swedish Match announced today that Göteborgs Rapé Hjortron White Portion Snus will be returning and Back to Stay in January, 2015!
Check the Goteborgs Rapé Product Page at the SnusCentral.com Snus Shop for GR' Hjortron between Week 2 and Week 4, 2015 to purchase.
Yes, I said Göteborgs Rapé, I will wait while you get over the giggles about doing bad things to a poor defenseless goat which are illegal in most states . All better now? Good.
[EDITOR’s NOTE: the Rapé in Goteborgs Rapé is pronounced “ra-PAY”….a variation of the French word râpé, meaning shredded. Leave it to the stupid French to make shredding tobacco sound so wrong. I’ve also heard it pronounced “RA-pee”. I use the latter since I hate everything tainted by France. Now back to Mick!]As you all know, at least those of you that have read my ramblings before, I am a fan of many of Swedish Match snus. I have visited their factories, broke bread with them, count some of their current and former employees as friends (at least by the Facebook definition of friend).
When I first heard about General Variation last fall, I got excited. Schoolgirl new crush excited. Finally two new Swedish Match offerings that didn’t involve fruity overly done flavors or mint. Bring ‘em on.
After what seemed an inordinately long wait I got a few cans of each in January. After using both in my usual testing ordeal I figured now was a good time to share my thoughts. I also have procrastinated for a while knowing that Swedish Match might not like what I have to say.
I love Odens Snus. Unfortunately GN Tobacco's other snus attempts have left me at best ambivalent, at worst, disgusted.
I was very hesitant to try Olde Ving. Part of this was because of the name. GNT used to call this snus brand Olde Viking; that is until the company which actually owned the Olde Viking brand name cried foul.
In a way, the brand name change was a good thing. Olde Viking was a particularly bad snus best known for its hockey puck sized cans.
I think they could have put a little more thought into the re-branding.... Olde Ving? Who or what is Ving?
For some odd reason I can't assimilate"Ving". My brain changes the letters and I find it vaguely dirty and possibly completely off putting. I really sort of, kinda wanted to try it, but was to scared to actually spend money buying some.
For those of you who don't know me that well, I am a big Star Wars fanatic.( I really like Star Trek also, but don't hold that against me.)
During the Big 2013 Snus Summit I had the pleasure of trying what I believe would be Yoda's snus. He is little, strong and green. Even his light saber is green. I doubt he is much of a health nut, living for many years on a swamp planet, eating whatever the swamp coughed up.
I know every other blogger in Snusland is covering this one as well, and even though my palate isn't as refined as others ( or at least I can’t express it as well) I thought I’d add my thoughts on General Classic White Mint Snus as well.....
The second 2012 Snus Summit, this one held in Washington DC, was a rousing success according to all those involved. Old friends were entertained and entertaining, new friends were added to the group.
News was shared, ideas bandied about, war stories shared, a couple new stories written in the Big Black Book, to only be read when the guilty are deceased.
Swedish Match cares about the bottom line. Sorry to tell this to those of you who thought Swedish Match wasn't a big publicly owned company intent on making profits. The difference to most American eyes is how they get there. I learned a lot on my recent trip to Sweden to visit two of Swedish Match’s production facilities. I learned a lot about the company’s history as well as some of their vision/goals for the future. While they were guarded about a sharing too much, they were almost transparent compared to American tobacco companies. We literally saw two things in Sweden that we were told that we didn't see and couldn't talk about. Both are finally available on-line and shortly on Norwegian store shelves, namely Lab Series 05 Strong Portion and 06 Extra Strong Portion snus. Also available on-line and soon over the counter in American convenience stores are the new General Nordic Mint and Classic Blend snus. So those horses have already left the barn.
Swedish Match NA held a super secret conference last Thursday in Chicago. A very select group of American bloggers attended. We were there to meet the newest Generals on the front lines of the snus war.
These are not the old stodgy round Generals that have been languishing behind the lines hoping that old tactics would save the day through some miracle. These are young, sleek and quick responding Generals who have a good chance of breaking through the allied wall of Camel, Marlboro and Skoal dominance. They are being turned loose in 3 test markets, Dallas, Chicago and Philadelphia, on Monday June 20th.The new General Classic Blend Snus and General Nordic Mint Snus, are new flavors in new cans. The tins are slightly oval with square edges with a used portion tray on the bottom. One of the guests caused a bit of a stir when he mentioned the similarities to the old Nick & Johnny East/West “coffin cans”.
An unfortunate term but a fairly accurate comparison, the new cans seal tighter and are smaller in every dimension. My biggest complaint about the new cans is the side label peels off when you open the tin, which leaves bare black plastic. It also peels off the ingredients list. With a few tweaks I feel it will be an excellent choice for the company’s direction for this product. The Trial packs hold 10 portions, the regular packs will hold 15. There is enough room to go to 20 portions in a can, which seems to not be in the plans.
As many of you know I was invited to spend some time in Sweden, courtesy of our friends at Swedish Match. Two friends, Julls and Feck, were invited also. Tim/Snusify was a virtual unknown to me but quickly fit into the group. Our first evening together set the tone for the whole visit. Before going I thought Julls would have to be the grown-up, but that hope was quickly dashed. We all were like kids on Christmas morning, or maybe a better analogy would be kids the night before going to Disneyland. For us this was the chance of a lifetime, and we were determined to make the most of it. Our first meeting of our host, Markus Ersmark, was not what I expected. I had seen pictures of him, but they were mostly company promo shots, staged for image and professionalism. I kind of expected a stuffed shirt type, full of salesman’s bravado. What we found was a person. He was real and much like us (in the good ways). Actually after a while he reminded me a bit of James Bond: sophisticated and smooth, well spoken and rarely at a loss for words. We did succeed in making him speechless a couple of times in 3 days, but it wasn't easy. It usually involved things we weren't allowed to discuss. This brings us to the main topic of this column. When we first arrived at the Gothenburg factory we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Nothing personal mind you; just so we would not be tempted to blab about things we saw that we maybe shouldn’t have seen.
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