Disclaimer: Granted, I do write about American "SNUS" and "snus" from time to time, but the focus of my blog/website is introducing people to REAL Swedish Snus. When it comes to snus, REAL Snus comes from Sweden. There's a difference, and the difference is big. Please read this article to learn the difference for yourself.
I stopped into my local gas station to get my morning Red Bull and behind the counter I see the new Marlboro "Snus". I didn't plan on reviewing this until my Skoal "SNUS" came in from a friend out of state, but since I saw it I figured I might as well go ahead and pick some up and write about it. I've been quite curious about this stuff. In the past, I've been none too impressed with American "snus" products, so I really, really, really wanted to like this. I wanted it to be good, I really did. I'm an optimist.
To backtrack a little, Marlboro "Snus" has gone through quite a few changes. In October 2009 the product was test marketed. In April 2010 the product went through a national release. This month it was announced that a new Marlboro "Snus" was going to come out in round cans with more portions. Before writing my last article, I spoke with a rep at Altria who told me the following about the new "snus". "The can will be 1 gram, and will have 15 portions per tin (this is what the consumer relations lady said from her packet of info she had)." Well, obviously that was wrong because these portions are freakin' huge, much like the maxi pad since of the new Camel "SNUS".
The new "snus" products come in Original and Mint (of course), and are pretty big, I'll show a size comparison below between some other snuses just to relate. The snus is very dry, which we'll get into more of later. The Mint may look more moist by looking at the portion, but I believe that's the oil from the mint flavoring that has soaked into the portion material, it's not actually more moist (as the cut test will show us). Another interesting tidbit is that the cans say "30% Domestic Tobacco, 70% Import Tobacco".
Doing a size comparison you can see how much this "snus" has grown. Left to right, General White Portion, Marlboro "snus" Rich (package edition), Marlboro "Snus" Original (2011 Round Can Edition), Camel "SNUS" Winterchill. They took a note out of the new Camel "SNUS" book and made their portions huge, using the Maxi-Pad Size. These new ones dwarf the original mini size of the package edition of Marlboro "snus". These portions are WAY too big and very uncomfortable.
Okay, the important question. has the "snus" itself improved? Well, yes and no. Doing a cut test will reveal all! Click the image/link on the left and you can see a full size version of this picture. On the left, note General White Portion. Real Swedish Snus is moist, around 50% moisture content. Next to that you can see the original Marlboro "snus" which is around 11-12% moisture content. And then next to those you can see the new Marlboro "Snus" products. Have they improved? The snus is more moist than the former Marlboro "snus" incarnation. I want to say it's between 20%-30% moisture content by my estimation. But the "snus" is still very dry. And that simply isn't snus. So they have improved by adding more moisture to their snus, but not enough. It still looks like dry cigarette tobacco, much like the Camel "SNUS". Okay, so a little review of each.
Marlboro "Snus" Original. Opening the can I quickly realized this "snus" had failed me. The sickingly sweet aroma that came through was oddly reminiscent of Camel "SNUS" Robust. The portion was large, dry, and uncomfortable. The taste of the "snus" was way too sweet, and after about 30 minutes it was simply too much. This "snus" is just as weak as the previous mini version and I couldn't even pick up any nicotine hit, not even a moderate one. I was really hoping this snus would be stronger and have a great tobacco flavor but Altria failed miserably with this one.
To go along with the stereotype that every American adores the flavor of Mint, Marlboro "Snus" Mint was the other "snus" released in the new format. The aroma of this one was a very, very sweet spearmint. The "snus" portions may look more moist at first glance, but the cut test revealed that simply isn't true and it's my belief it's the oil used to add the mint flavoring that soaked into the portion material to make it look more moist. The flavor is way, way, way, way, way too sweet and after about 30 minutes it turns gross and I just couldn't keep this thing in my lip. No nicotine hit to speak of.
So that's that. The new Marlboro "snus" is simply unimpressive. More "snus", same crap product. Altria failed to do anything to improved their previous product other than making the "snus" itself a little more moist, but other than that there are no redeeming factors for this "snus" whatsoever other than a cool can to add to my collection. I hope someday American tobacco manufacturers will make a good snus instead of automatically assuming it has to be big and way too sweet for us to like it. Because that simply isn't the case for all snusers.