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8 Things You Didn't Know About Snus

Published On 03/12/2015 Published On 03/12/2015
General Snus
Anthony Humphreys/TMG

People have probably heard of it, but maybe aren’t sure exactly what it is. A kind of smokeless tobacco that goes under the lip, this miniature leaf-stuffed pillow doesn’t need to be chewed like dip. Read on to find out why snus is the next weird Swedish thing to make it big in the States, kind of like the bafflingly popular series of Swede dance music sensations.

1. Thank New Sweden for its invention

Sweden’s New World colony, which existed in the mid-Atlantic, covering parts of both Jersey and Delaware, was short lived (admit it, nobody knows it happened). Tobacco began to enter Sweden from New Sweden in the middle of the 17th century. But, even while avoiding French and English merchants, tobacco was still too expensive for Joe Swede to smoke or snuff. So snus, a new blend of tobacco mixed with salt and water, was invented to meet the Swedish demand for tobacco. 


2. This isn’t a new thing In the past few years, Swedish snus has begun to appear on American shelves. And, while American attempts to mimic snus appeared in ‘90s, it’s been around in Scandinavia since the mid-19th century. 

Beverley Goodwin

3. Snus is pasteurized like milk

It’s ground up and heated just hot enough that it doesn’t combust, for anywhere from 24 to 36 hours. 

Anthony Humphreys/TMG

4. You don't need to spit

That means: there’s no gross little spit cup -- or eventually taking a revolting accidental sip of it. 

Anthony Humphreys/TMG

5. People don’t put it in their face right

Dippers take a pinch of chewing tobacco and tuck it behind their bottom lip. Snus, on the other hand, is placed along the gum line under the upper lip.

Anthony Humphreys/TMG

6. You should let it chill out

You don't need to keep it cold to keep it fresh, but snus is at its best when it's chilled. So keep it cool, either in the fridge or at a Tame Impala concert. 

Ashley Van Haeften/Flickr

7. Snus isn’t the same stuff as snuff

Snuff can refer to either finely ground snortable tobacco (which was once popular with snuffbox-toting rich folks, like the one pictured), or “moist snuff,” which is dipping tobacco. Snus (rhymes with “loose”) is a whole other ball game. 

Anthony Humphreys/TMG

8. Snus has been blowing up for 30 odd years (in Sweden, anyway)

Daily smoking in Sweden has fallen off; now, less than 10% of the population smokes cigarettes daily -- compared to 40% in 1976. And, since ‘76, snus-in’ has doubled (one in every five Swedes now snus). 

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