The Swedish snus book by Bengt Sandh book review

From the front page: Everything you want to know about snus. History, traditions, old times snus manufacturers. Statistics, old cans, snus brands, snus songs, and rhymes, how to grow tobacco for making snus and how to make snus.

The Swedish snus book by Bengt Sandh book review

From the front page: Everything you want to know about snus. History, traditions, old times snus manufacturers. Statistics, old cans, snus brands, snus songs, and rhymes, how to grow tobacco for making snus and how to make snus.

“Have you ever heard of a snus user set his bed on fire or someone being affected by secondary snus?”

On the first page of the book, you get Bengts take on tobacco and snus regulations currently affecting EU countries. He is a proponent of free choice for the individual. Snus is not harmless but not as harmful as smoking is his attitude.

The history of tobacco

In the first chapter of the book you get a description on how Columbus discovered tobacco and brought it to Europe via Spain and Portugal. In Spain and Portugal you could find the tobacco plant in almost every garden as a medicinal or ornamental plants.

Also how Jean Nicot brought the plant to Katarina de Medici in the mid fourteen century as a cure against head ace and how the tobacco use spread among the aristocrats in France.

You will learn that in Sweden up until 1962 350 000 tonnes tobacco was produced each year. But this was the last year before the business was closed down.

This and many other historical snus and tobacco facts you can find in this chapter.

Tobacco facts

Some facts you will learn is that tobacco is a member of the same family as potato and tomato. There are ca 45 different kinds of tobacco in the nicotiana family. You will also learn about the most common ones, how the flower look and how to grow tobacco from seed.

Bengt also talks about different methods of drying and curing tobacco leaves and in the different products the tobacco is used. You will also learn how the tobacco is prepared for producing snus.

You will read that the nicotine is as poisonous as hydrogen cyanide and 0.05 gram is a deadly dose for a grown person. You learn what effect nicotine has on the nervous system, airways, blood vessels, heart, and stomach. How it’s absorbed by the body and what symptoms high nicotine doses give. You also learn about other traditional uses of nicotine besides snus and smoking.

The snus manufacturer Jacob Fredrik Ljunglöf

In this chapter you learn the history of some of the early Swedish tobacco manufacturers. Some facts and figures on production and the number of employees to name a few. And from there he tells the success the story on JF Ljunglöf, the man behind Ljunglöfs Ettan. One famous customer who liked Ljunglöfs products was the pope Leo XIII. Ljunglöf was famous for his high-quality tobacco products.

Old times manufacturers and their brands

Before the Swedish tobacco monopoly there were a countless number of tobacco manufacturers. In the book, you can read about some of the most important ones at the time. What type of products they have and what names they used for their tobacco products.

Modern times snus-brands

Bengt tell a story from one of his tours in the 1980s' where he bought a bag full of snus cans, one of each brand. Back then you had a much more brand to choose from, many of them only sold locally. He then enumerates on the brands available today (or when the book was written in 1992). The name, characteristics, and history of each brand.

  • Ljunglös Ettan
  • General
  • Grov
  • Göteborgs prima fint
  • Göteborgs rapé
  • Karlskronasnus
  • Mörkbrunt snus
  • Rallarsnus
  • Röda lacket
  • Stjärnsnus
  • Svenskt exportsnus
  • Östan
  • Catch (pouches)
  • Tre Ankare (pouches)
  • Catch Mini Blue (pouches)
  • Catch Mini Red (pouches)
  • Tre Ankare (pouches)
  • Jackpot (chew)
  • Picanell (chew)

Today you find a greater variety in pouches than in loose snus. It was different when he wrote the book.

Snus customs and traditions

You will learn about different tobacco traditions from the 1500s' and on-wards. In what form the tobacco was used and who used it. One fact from the book is that you find the highest snus consumption by weight in The USA. It was the Swedish immigrants who brought the snus to the USA in the 1800s. But in Sweden, you find the highest consumption per person.

Bengt then talks about the difference between Swedish and American snus. How it is prepared and the difference in flavor and structure.

You will also find a lengthy old recipe for a “sauce” used to flavor tobacco leaves. It is complicated with a lot of ingredients. Something for the curious to try for themselves.

Bengt mentions a trick what to do if the snus has dried out. With this trick you dry snus becomes fresh overnight.

He then tells how the snus was packaged and the many different types of cans used to store the snus. Some of them in metal and embellished with jewels and pictures. Some explicit with pornographic pictures inside. The simpler metal cans were often used as a weapon in fistfights back in the days.

Snus songs and rhymes

You could tell that Bengt is an old troubadour and singer-songwriter when you come to this chapter. On 18 pages you get an assortment of snus songs and rhymes. This is maybe interesting for some but it’s nothing I spend much time on.

Propaganda and statistics

In this chapter you can read about the different methods the authorities have used it in vain to try to stop the use of tobacco.

You find statistic on how the snus consumption begin to drop in the 1940s' until the end of The 1960s' when the fact that smoking caused cancer to begin to spread. Many smokers used snus to quit smoking, a less harmful tobacco product.

Growing tobacco

Bengt suggest choosing the best Virginia, Nicotiana tabacum if you want to try to grow tobacco. He then goes on about what soil and habitat you should use for your plants. What fertilizer to use and potash salt and phosphate. You learn how far apart you should put your plant and how much you should water the plants.

You also learn how to care for your plants during their lifetime, how and when to prune the plants. He then talks about when it’s time to harvest the leaves and how to prepare the leaves before drying them. You will learn the best way of hanging the leaves when you dry them. He describes different drying methods and how they affect the taste of dry tobacco.

Making snus

On 6 pages you will learn how to make snus at home. In this chapter, Bengt shares Ljunglöfs original recipe on snus. But it is for a batch of 145 kg (ca 320 lb) and with an old unit of measure. But Bengt has translated it to modern units and for 1 kg of tobacco. (2.2 lb). I have heard that it was this recipe that inspired Bengt to start his snus factory.

If you have whole leaves you will learn how to best grind the to tobacco powder for use in snus.

You learn how much water, salt and potash to use and how to heat treat it. You get a step by step instruction on how to prepare and store the snus.

You get suggestions on things you can flavor your snus with and he encourage you to try out different combinations for your snus.

Snus literature

In the appendix you find a reference to an assortment to litterateur about snus and snus manufacturers.

About the author

Bengt war born in 1938 in Borås, Sweden, a Swedish troubadour, songwriter, author, and snus manufacturer. He had a troublesome upbringing in different children’s homes and was exposed to sexual abuse. In his youth, he was arrested and spent time in reform schools from where he escaped several times. According to one newspaper at the time he had the Swedish record in car theft with 46 cars in 10 days. He also escaped from the military service for which he spent a month in prison.

Bengt is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and after a number of different employments he began to make a living as an artist in 1965 when he released his first record album.

Besides being an artist he also began to visit fairs all over Sweden where he sold his books and recordings.

After he started the company Bengt Sändhs Snusfabrique AB he also sold snus, snus cans and schnapps glass, condoms and other products he produced on fairs in Sweden.

In 1999 he sold his snus-factory to Swedish Match and moved to the Spanish Costa del Sol where he lives today.

Here you can see a YouTube clip from Spain about Bengt: Visiting Bengt in Fuengirola Andalusia where he shows how he makes his snus today. He uses an old refrigerator and a small stove as a heat chamber and uses pure bergamot oil to flavor his snus.

This is just a short summary of everything he has done, you can read more on Wikipedia (in Swedish). Bengt Sändh - Wikipedia

My review of the book

This is a short hardcover book on only 112 pages. If you are interested in the history of tobacco and Swedish snus you find much of interest in the book. But as I bought it to get more knowledge on how to make snus at home it is a bit lacking in that department. Although it is there in the book, it is only 6 of the pages of the book and the tobacco growing is on 5 pages. The rest of the book is on history, statistic songs, and rhymes.

The song and rhymes chapter is 18 pages long and a bit too long for my taste. I don’t know if you find the book in book-stores today, but it is common on second-hand book sites on the net.

Update: If you are lucky you might find it on Amazon

If it is growing tobacco to make your own snus you want to read about, there are better books on the market. Some I got in my library and maybe review here someday.

Leave a comment

What books on snus and tobacco do you recommend? Leave a comment and let me know.

Take it easy and snus on.


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