Göteborgs Rapé - it stands out on its own.
Describing it is like explaining the character of a fine wine: "...with tones of juniper berry and fresh herbs." At the same time, its 1919 origins are humble. Then, there is of course the quirky name. Some folks thought that condensing its name into 'GR' would be a good idea. In the process, they ripped the Göteborgs Rapé of some of its rather unique character. This snus, however, successfully manages to stand out on its own merits.
Let's get that name thing out of the way, shall we?
Apart from being an interesting conversation starter in the anglosaxian world, the name Göteborgs Rapé comes with a story. The word rapé - pronounced [r?peI] with the emphasis on the 'ey'-sound - is french and literally means ripping. And Göteborg is the original Swedish spelling of the country's second largest city, Gothenburg. And for the record, Göteborg is pronounced [(yut´'uh-bor(ye)']. So although there might be a number of practical reasons for condensing the name into 'GR' - if you ask us, it should never have happened.
A great flavour, created by accident.
Göteborgs Rapé was not created by a determined inventor with a supreme nose. It evolved from trial and error. The people who experimented were sailors on the many merchant ships that moored in the port of Göteborg. This city has always been Sweden's gateway to the world. Here ships to and from Asia, the Caribbean and America - would depart and arrive.
Many of them brought home new spices and flavors. Sometime in the 19th century, a new kind of snus blend was developed. Seamen started to add different spices to their loose tobacco while creating their personal snus blends. It might have happened because they were lacking first-class ingredients or just for the plain and simple fun of it. Not even the Swedish Match historians know for sure. What we all know is that among all the different snus blends, one stood out as fresh and spicy. Or as some put it: "...a mild and sweet tobacco flavor with tones of juniper berry and fresh herbs." To us it sounds pretty much like describing a fine wine, and considering its not so sophisticated roots we think that it gives this extraordinary snus blend the credit it deserves.
Turning a personal blend into a commercial product.
In 1915, the Swedish government decided that the state should take control of the entire tobacco industry in Sweden. All of a sudden this state monopoly, controlled no fewer than 103 brands of snus. Of these, 25 were from Göteborg. In order to slim the portfolio down, a jury gathered to taste and test all these brands, narrowing them down to only five. In 1919, these five brands were registered. One of the winners was Göteborgs Rapé. From that point the sailors' snus was produced in a factory. Of course that meant the end to the hand ripping of the tobacco. From that point, modern grating technology has been used even for the rapé. In 1967, the good folks at Swedish Match introduced the now classic round can. The brands of Göteborg were all given labels in ocean-inspired blue colors. Thirty years later, the GR was the first to introduce white portion snus, making the pouches white with a dry surface and therefore less runny. Not bad for a product invented by chance by Göteborg-born sailors!
A touch of class?
When Göteborgs Rapé was launched in 1919, it was common for snus brands to have very generic names, let it be product quality, inventor or geographic origin. The Rapé in Göteborgs Rapé was an addition to give the snus a more exclusive image. Since France was a place where it was supposed to be happening, it was only a logical to add a little Frenchness.
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.