General snus - it's been the Original since 1850
It's a blend of 22 different types of tobacco, topped with a tiny drop of bergamot oil. It took some 1500 days to perfect. This happened 160 years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden and since then it's been the gold standard; the #1 snus. In short: The Original.
Birthplace: 19th Century Gothenburg
The Vikings were actually way more into trade than raping and plundering. The place that would later become Gothenburg is where much of that trading started. The town grew to become the main port on Sweden's west coast. Here, 3766 miles from New York is where most of the about 1.3 million Swedes that emigrated to America boarded their ships. An entrepreneurial climate has always been present, cars, ball bearings and cameras, many of the inventions that Sweden has become world famous for, first saw the day of light in Gothenburg. And one of these inventors was Johan A Boman.
Not only did Mr. Boman enjoy the finer things in life. He was also equipped with a magic nose, a sixth sense for blending flavors and an extreme patience. He spent 1500 days developing a recipe for a Swedish snus. With no fewer than 22 different types of tobacco, sourced from the world's finest plantations, his recipe remains the same today. It includes the ingenious addition of the bergamot oil, extracted from the skin of a citrus fruit, which tastes less sour than lemon. The slightly peppery tobacco blend needs just a few drops, but those drops makes what we call a General.
In 1850, Mr. Boman had perfected his blend and word spread quickly, but production was still more or less a work done by hand. He first handed out his much sought-after goods from old kitchen jars in his Gothenburg outlet and later took over an entire tobacco factory. The focus of the production: General snus. This factory remained a Boman family operation until 1915, when the Swedish state seized all tobacco production in Sweden to pay for national defence and the country's first pension reform. Smokeless tobacco was the resource that gave them the most bang for their buck. In 1967, the state stepped back and the company which is today known as Swedish Match took over production and brands. Among those many brands, one was extra valuable; the world's premium snus brand. You all know which one.
King of the hill. Top of the Heap. A text about the General brand may seem like information overload. The brand is what it is; the original. No further explanation necessary.
But it may be worth knowing that the image of General has gone from being the common snus, the general snus, to its top position, almost entirely on its own. Very little marketing has helped it, simply because there wasn't any. Take it from an outsider; hard sell isn't embedded in the DNA of those silent Swedes who have always preferred action over talk. It's safe to say that General have survived and withheld its position through 160 years, very much on its own merits; through its heritage and its history. But it's not just a matter of survival. The secret is of course in the recipe: It was amazing from day one.
Rigorous control - from plant to pouch
It starts in the soil. Before someone even puts a seed in it, soil samples are taken to a laboratory in Sweden for analysis. Swedish Match experiments with cultivation in different countries to achieve the best possible raw tobacco. If declared a good soil for tobacco, seeds are planted and every step in the development and the cultivation of the plant is carefully monitored. The tobacco is selected on the basis of seed type, location, climate, leaf position on the plant and curing conditions. When cultivation have started, representatives from Swedish Match will visit the plantations regularly to ensure that the crops will meet the requirements. There's a simple purpose for all this care: To ensure that the tobacco that ends up being selected for the various snus blends from Swedish Match contains the lowest levels of undesirable components possible. This quality control continues through the entire chain of production; when the leaves are harvested and air-cured; when transported and later sorted in a gianormous, perfectly climatized storehouse. Then, finally, the tobacco will find its way to the factory.
When hi-tech meets a 200 year-old tradition
In step one, the tobacco leaves are crushed and ground to fine grains; the size of the particles varies with the brand. The tobacco is then carefully mixed into a blend. A blend could contain anything between 10 and 30 different grades of tobacco depending on the recipe. In step two, the tobacco is mixed with the other main snus ingredients; water and salt. It's then time for it to undergo heat treatment, (pasteurization). After being chilled the tobacco meets the different ingredients - spices, natural oils or even bourbon whiskey - that will give the snus that extra flavor and special character. And then, finally, it's time for packaging. Loose snus goes straight into the can. For portions the correct amount of snus is first wrapped in a little pouch. In the Swedish Match factories, there is a zero tolerance for errors. Everything - which means everything - is completely focused on delivering top quality. Sophisticated instruments measure and control the process along with watchful and well trained eyes. The tradition of manufacturing snus is 200 years old in Sweden, but there's nothing traditional or old about the Swedish Match production plant. If your nose wouldn't detect the pleasant scent of tobacco here and there in the manufacturing facility, you could easily picture that parts for a fighter jet were being produced instead of snus. They even invented their own quality standard, GothiaTek. And that certainly did not happen because they wanted to make life easy for themselves. It's very much the other way around. Yes, those Swedes are a tough bunch.
Inventing the Standard
With no quality standard for Swedish Snus available, Swedish Match had to invent one of their own. It's known as GothiaTek®. First of all, let's just make one thing clear: They didn't create this system to make is easier on themselves!
The Swedes have been manufacturing their snus for almost 200 years and it's a quite unique product. In fact, Swedish snus differs substantially from most other variations of smokefree tobacco, especially in the way it's produced. In Sweden, the manufacturing of snus falls under the Swedish Food Act, which is actually quite logical, as you put Swedish snus in your mouth (and if you still consider that odd, just think chewing gum). But the mission of the Livsmedelsverket (National Food Administration) is focused on specifying and defining certain limitations regarding the ingredients, since a public authority would not set standards to enhance the quality of the product. Besides, most of the research on Swedish snus has been done by Swedish Match, as they are being the world's leading producer of Swedish snus.
The standard works as a guarantee, assuring the consumer that all Swedish Match products undergo strict and rigorous controls. And the implementation of GothiaTek® doesn't stop at the production facility. It's a quality measure for every stage in the production of snus; from the tobacco plant all the way to the consumer.
GothiaTek® is a standard, developed by Swedish Match, that sets:
Requirements on maximum permitted levels of suspected harmful elements that occur naturally in tobacco.
Requirements on raw material.
Requirements on the manufacturing process.
Requirements on qualified product information to consumers.
The ambition of the standard is to continuously reduce or eliminate alleged harmful components in Swedish snus and to increase the knowledge about snus products and their impact on users. GothiaTek® support independent research and as well as internal research and development work directed at continual product improvement.
GothiaTek® also cooperates with legislators and authorities to spread the knowledge about the Swedish snus products, so that legislation and regulations shall be based on all available knowledge.
General - the most popular snus in Sweden
General snus is a full bodied and complex snus, made by a mix from more than 20 types of tobacco and a drop of bergamott oil. The result is a full and spicy flavor with a slightly peppery note with citrus. For many snus users this is the only thinkable flavor.