Junior Mints are a candy brand consisting of small rounds of mint filling inside a dark chocolate coating, with a dimple on one side. The product is currently produced by Tootsie Roll Industries, and is packaged in varying amounts from the fun-size box to the much larger 12.0 oz. box.
Junior Mints were introduced in 1949 by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based James O. Welch Company. The company also manufactured candies and candy bars such as Sugar Babies, Welch's Fudge, and Pom Poms.
James O. Welch was born in Hertford, North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina, and then founded his Cambridge candy company in 1927. His partner in the company was his brother, Robert W. Welch, Jr., who retired from the confectionery business in 1956 and two years later founded the John Birch Society.
In 1963, the brand was acquired by Nabisco, who sold the brand to Warner-Lambert Company (now part of Pfizer) in 1988, who in turn sold the brand to Tootsie Roll in 1993. Today, Junior Mints are still manufactured in the Area 4 neighborhood of Cambridge at a factory of Cambridge Brands, a Tootsie Roll Industries subsidiary. The same factory makes all Sugar Babies and Charleston Chews.
Origin of product name
The name of the product is a pun on Sally Benson's Junior Miss, a collection of her stories from The New Yorker, which were adapted by Jerome Chodorov and Joseph Fields into a successful play. The play was directed by Moss Hart and ran on Broadway from 1941 to 1943. According to one past official company history, when James Welch developed and launched the product in 1949, he named the candy after his favorite Broadway show. Yet the candy came six years after the play had closed on Broadway. Current copy on the Junior Mints box incorrectly gives the date of the Broadway play as 1949. Some may argue that this is comparable to the "potato potato" scenario, as depending on how you read "named after a top Broadway play in 1949: "Junior Miss"", it may be interpreted that it is simply referring to the candy being named in 1949.
In 1945, the play was adapted to film, with George Seaton directing Peggy Ann Garner in the lead role. The Junior Miss radio series, starring Barbara Whiting, was being broadcast weekly on CBS at the time Junior Mints were first marketed in 1949. Thus, Welch had cleverly created a product sold at movie theater concession stands and identified with a specific movie and radio series and displaying a name that sounded almost exactly like that property–yet different enough that it avoided any fees for licensing and merchandising. Junior Mints quickly became a popular candy at movie concession stands, and one product in the line is the three oz. box marketed as the "Theater Size Junior Mints Concession Candy".
Over 15 million Junior Mints are produced daily. Tootsie Roll also makes Junior Caramels (caramel filling with a milk chocolate coating) and limited edition "Inside Outs" (mint-chocolate filling with a white chocolate shell). Other limited edition Junior Mints include Valentine's Day Pastels/Valentine's Day Regulars (not pastel), Easter Pastels, Christmas edition (featuring red and green fillings), and Christmas Peppermint Crunch edition (featuring crunchy peppermint flakes in the outer chocolate coating). Junior Mints are sold in various amounts from the fun-size boxes to the movie theater-size boxes, since the product continues to sell well in movie theaters. Junior Mints have traveled throughout the world. They are now certified kosher dairy by the Orthodox Union.
In 2009, Tootsie Roll introduced a companion product, "Junior Mints Deluxe". The "Deluxe" is a larger dark chocolate covered mint that comes foil wrapped (much like a chocolate covered cherry) and is sold in 10, 22, and 72-piece boxes with a fold up sign, designed for individual piece sale on retail counter tops.
In popular culture
Junior Mints were prominently featured in an episode of Seinfeld titled "The Junior Mint". While observing the surgery of Elaine's ex-boyfriend Roy, Kramer offers a Junior Mint to Jerry, who refuses the offer—to which Kramer later states, "Who's gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It's chocolate, it's peppermint; it's delicious!"—and the two accidentally drop it into the retracted abdominal cavity below. After Roy's condition deteriorates, Jerry calls the hospital intending to confess the whole situation, only to discover that Roy's condition has improved. The doctor attributes the miraculous recovery to "something beyond science — something, perhaps, from above." In reality, a York Peppermint Pattie was used because Junior Mints were too small to be filmed.
In Fancy Boys episode "The Junior Mints", Aaron and Barry try to somehow get a lifetime supply of Junior Mints throughout the episode.
YouTuber Justine Ezarik (iJustine) is known as the biggest Junior Mints fan. As a child she owned Junior Mints fanfare such as a lunch box, T- shirts, and a blanket. Now it is still her favorite candy but she is not as enthusiastic about it.
The 2006 Augusten Burroughs book Possible Side Effects contains a chapter, "Mint Threshold", about the author's experience creating an advertising campaign for Junior Mints.
- "James O. Welch Dies at 79; Founder of Candy Company". February 1, 1985 – via NYTimes.com.
- "A factory in Cambridge makes 14 million Junior Mints a day. Why is no one allowed inside? - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com.
- Smith, Andrew F. (July 14, 2006). "Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food". Greenwood Publishing Group – via Google Books.
- Junior Mints box copy
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