Copenhagen tobacco history
Copenhagen wasn't an overnight success by any means. In fact, it was pretty much impossible to find outside of Pennsylvania until the 1960's. But that doesn't mean that the rest of the country wasn't busy dipping. In fact, many Americans were snusing! Let's jump back to the beginning. In this case, our story starts in the early 1700s.
The Swedes were using snuff just like the rest of Europe. The unique thing about Swedish snuff was that it was more heavily "flavored" than other regional varieties. Much of the tobacco that came to Sweden ended up moldy during transit by sea. It was likewise hard to grow tobacco in most of Sweden, so it's reasonable to think that a majority of Swedish tobacco was not "up to snuff", so to speak. Most of it was flavored with common Swedish spices like Lingonberry, Juniper, Bergamot, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg. This was less to do with Swedes craving flavored tobacco and more to do with trying to make "green", rotten tobacco even remotely palatable.
The oldest snus brand still in existence is . In fact, it may be the oldest continuously made tobacco product period. It was introduced in 1753 by the Peter Schwartz factory. It slowly grew to be the most popular snus brand in southern Sweden before being launched nationally in the early 1800's. It was one of, if not the, best selling brands (up until Ettan came along). It was also one of the first snus brand to be imported to North America.
In the US, the tobacco industry was still monopolized. All production was split basically between two different factions, the American Tobacco Company (smoking tobacco) and the American Snuff Company(smokeless). The American Snuff Company was a conglomerate of (former competitors) Helme, Weyman, Bruton, Beck, and Bolander. All during the 1800s, when these companies were in various stages of integration, there was experimentation with "snoose" tobacco, or, the strong oral snuff favored by Scandinavian immigrants.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly where oral snuff originated in the US aside from Copenhagen, but it's clear that different areas of the country had different snus brands in production prior to 1900. Some of these brands were called "snus" or "snoose", and some were just labeled "snuff", and some went by two or more different classifications depending which neighborhood/city they were sold in. In New Jersey, there was Viking and Norseman. In Pennsylvania there was Weyman/Copenhagen and Key (and by 1934, Skoal). But none of those hubs matched the production output of Chicago.
Chicago had a huge Swedish population and they brought their snus with them. In fact, the word "snus" was synonymous with Swedish culture in general. Neighborhoods, streets, buildings, and cities contained the word "snus or "snoose": Snus Hill, Snus Junction, Snoose Boulevard, Snus Lake, etc.
Seizing an opportunity, a New Jersey based company began to import some Swedish brands into Midwest markets. If you were a recent Scandinavian immigrant, the welcome sight of such familiar brands as Ljunglöfs Snus N.1 (later, just called Ettan), Blandning N.1, Ainkor, and Noorkopping would have made you feel right at home. If your English was pretty good, you would have recognized Röda Lacket masquerading as the anglicized Red Seal.
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