Ettan Kardus and Kardus Superior Blend; American Snusers are Confused
It's not always easy being a Swedish snus lover and American. It can even be tougher if the American in question is new to Swedish snus. I'm not new to Swedish snus; I have enjoyed Kardus Superior Blend Vintage 2009 and 2010. I understand and agree it is the finest example of the Swedish snus maker's craft. I eagerly read the fascinating story behind each vintage prior to it's release. I know it's very rare and is only made available once a year, and then only if Swedish Match determines that year's vintage is worthy to be called a Kardus Superior Blend snus.
When I was texted a picture of an Ettan Kardus, I was excited and confused at the same time. If even I, the Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States, was confused, then the American snusing public must be at a complete loss. I investigated further and what I found was still not making sense.
Each Ettan Kardus package includes 250 grams of snus. It is also very rare and only 40 total pieces were being made available to the entire Internet community in 2010. I toiled away with the SnusCIA trying to learn why...and more. In response to my inquiry, Markus Ersmark of Swedish Match texted me from his iPhone that the suggested retail price of Kardus Ettan was 250 SEK. That's less than 40 USD. What???
Since it was late on a Friday night in Sweden, I assumed Markus was either drunk or the cab he was in hit a bump while he was texting. There must be a zero missing from that price! After all, Kardus Superior Blend 2010 retailed for just under 70 USD and that was only for 100 grams. How could Ettan Kardus be half the price yet contain 2 1/2 times the snus? They both used the Swedish word "Kardus" in their descriptions. What was going on here???
Marcus sent me a .pdf explaining the Ettan Kardus story. Unfortunately, it was in Swedish and my translation software did not work on .pdf files. Markus promised to commission an English translation at his own expense and forward it as soon as he could. Two sleepness nights later, I received this translation:
Ljunglöf’s Ettan loose snus in the historical kardus packaging
In 1822, Jakob Ljunglöf’s Ettan snus was one of the most popular snus brands available and to this day, it’s unarguably the oldest and most recognizable brand in Sweden. Back then, Ettan was packaged much differently than the familiar round cans we know of today. When Jakob first began producing Ettan loose, he would hand pack the snus in 250 gram packages called “kardus” which were made from heavy paper and once folded, resembled a letter, hence the kardus, or “letter snus” name. This method of packaging in paper remained the standard for Ettan loose for over 160 years with only minor changes. In the early 1900’s, oval cardboard containers that held either 50 or 100 grams of snus replaced the square 250 gram packages due to convenience and portability.
About 40 years ago, the Swedish Tobacco Monopoly (Svenska Tobaksmonopolet) decided that loose snus needed to be placed in a more durable container and replaced the oval shape for the round one we are familiar with today. Prior to the paper and cardboard containers, loose snus was purchased in containers ranging from wooden barrels and porcelain containers to glass bottles! But some snus connoisseurs still yearned for the historical kardus packages and their dreams have now been answered.
At the Tobacco & Match Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, you can still purchase Ettan loose the way it was sold back in 1822. The museum packages 250 grams of Ettan loose in the original kardus style and each one is packaged by hand, signed by the packer and dated, just like the old days but unfortunately, these historical packages can only be purchased at the museum.
So 'kardus snus' means 'letter snus'? What a shattering letdown.
For years, I've assumed Kardus was the Swedish word representing a premium product or was the brand name of some long lost historical snus. Instead, it turns out to be a post office term describing the paper and fold of an envelope. Hmmm.
That may explain Ettan Kardus, but Kardus Superior Blend has always been packaged in a wooden box with the snus safely contained in a plastic capsule within. Does 'kardus' also refer to shipping boxes or containers?
How did the Swedish Post Office get involved in the snus business in the first place? Was calling their snus Kardus some kind of payoff by early snus manufacturers so Swedish Post would deliver it? Could the first snus called kardus actually have been a paid advertisement for the post office? Was early snus sponsored the same way sports stadiums in the USA are now? Did that sponsorship include naming rights? Are a Grovsnus UPS or Goteborg's FedEX Edition snus destined for our future?
It's a good thing that Ettan and Kardus Superior Blend rank as two of my very favorite Swedish snuses. I'd still use and love them even if they came in plastic sandwich bags....although I probably not would have the empty plastic bags on display as I do my snus cans and boxes.
Ah, the illusions of our snus-youth. As we grow and mature in Swedish snus, we must put such childish visions behind us and move forward. Time to go; I have to drop by the post office and mail my car payment kardus.
Enjoying my REAL Swedish Snus, whatever it's called.....
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org