The history of snuff
Snuff is said to have originated in Brazil among the indigenous people, who would grind up the tobacco using mortar and pestle made from rosewood. The rosewood apparently gave the snuff an extra aroma, and was an early precursor to the various snuff flavours found today.
However, snuff was only brought to the shores of Europe during the time of Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the New World – apparently by Friar Pané, who has been hailed as the bringer of a product that has stood the test of time, and remains popular to this day.
Snuff has also enjoyed many names throughout the years – its most illustrious being Herba Regina (the queen’s herb). This name was given by Catherine de’ Medici, who was queen of the French court in the 1500s. Legend has it that her physician prescribed snuff for her persistent migraines, and she became so enamoured by it, that she always carried some on her person. As a result, snuff became very popular and trendy among the ladies of her court who, no doubt, were very keen to try anything with such a regal name.
By the 1600s, snuff had become a very luxurious and popular product in Holland, where it took on its modern name, from the Dutch snuif.
But of course, as with most good stories, snuff has faced adversaries too. Pope Urban VIII threatened to ex-communicate snuff users in the 17th century, and Czar Michael of Russia banned the use of snuff, simultaneously passing a law permitting the nose amputation of any person found using it. Aren’t you glad it’s legal today…and you get to keep your nose to sniff snuff into?