Mint (candy)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the confectionery. For other uses, see Mint.
Scotch mints.JPG
Scotch mints
Alternative names Peppermints, spearmints
Type Confectionery
Main ingredients Mint flavoring or mint oil or other oil (such as wintergreen)
Variations Hard mints, soft mints, Scotch mints, Mint Imperials
Cookbook: Mint  Media: Mint

A mint is a food item characterized by the presence of mint flavoring or real mint oil, whether it be peppermint oil, spearmint oil, or another natural or artificial source; the sweets are often referred to as "peppermints." They are usually used to freshen breath. It is possible to obtain these sweets in a sugar-free version. Wintergreen and other oils or flavors are also frequently used in mints; however, these are not of the mint (Mentha) family or botanical group.

Although historically consumed as any other type of candy, mints are especially popular worldwide as after-meal refreshment candies since the taste and smell of mint oil and its active components are quite strong and feel clean and cool to the mouth as well as soothing to the stomach.[1]

Types of mint[edit]

Hard mints[edit]

Package for mints from early 20th century, Mexico from the permanent collection of the Museo del Objeto del Objeto.

Hard mints are hard candies or boiled sweets flavored with mint. Examples of hard mints include starlight mints, also known as pinwheel mints, white, circular, with red rays emitting from the middle; candy canes; humbugs; and brand name mints such as Altoids.

In addition to breath freshening, mints that actually contain peppermint oil or extract have been popular in helping with digestion after a meal. Peppermint has muscle relaxant properties and therefore may relax the smooth muscles of the GI tract, allowing for easier passage of food contents. However, since the lower esophageal sphincter may be relaxed, peppermint may aggravate "heartburn" or GERD.

Peppermint also seems to be effective in relieving intestinal gas and indigestion.[1] According to the German Commission E Monograph, real peppermint oil or extract has been used for cramp-like complaints in the gastrointestinal tract. This can help to explain why mints with real peppermint oil, in addition to peppermint tea, have been popular for and are frequently used after meals to help with digestion as well as to help freshen the breath.

Soft mints[edit]

Soft mints, such as "dinner mints" and "butter mints", are soft candies, often with a higher butter content, that dissolve more readily inside one's mouth.

Scotch mints[edit]

A "scotch mint" or "pan drop" is a white round candy with a hard shell but fairly soft chewy middle, popular in Great Britain and other Commonwealth nations and in Europe. Scotch mints were traditionally spheroids, more recently moving toward a larger, discoid shape. The name "scotch mint" comes from the specific mint plant Mentha × gracilis. The company Perfetti Van Melle markets scotch mints in a variety of flavors as Mentos candies.

Mint imperials[edit]

Mint imperials are similar to scotch mints but their content is hard and crumbly rather than chewy. They may share a visual resemblance with scotch mints, but are not the same. However some makers do market scotch mints as 'mint imperials'. An examination of the surface will reveal the inner texture; a uniformly smooth surface is a scotch mint, a pitted, rough surface is a mint imperial.

Breath mints[edit]

Breath mints are a subclass of mints consumed for non-nutritive purposes, primarily to freshen the smell of one's breath. Breath mints work by masking offensive odors with the scent of mint or other flavoring, and by stimulating the flow of saliva to help remove food and bacterial debris from the mouth.

Most breath mints are produced in a hard candy, boiled sweet, or compressed sugar style. Some mints flavored with menthol serve a double purpose as throat lozenges ("cough drops").

Like chewing gums and throat lozenges, many breath mints are artificially sweetened so as not to encourage the growth of dental caries. An increasing number are sweetened with xylitol in order to promote good oral hygiene and dental remineralization.


Bêtise (French for "blunder") is a mint-flavored candy made in Cambrai, France
After dinner mints 
Circle of Life Savers 

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Blumenthal, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs First Edition 1998 American Botanical Council, USA.
  • Grigoleit HG, Grigoleit P (August 2005). "Pharmacology and preclinical pharmacokinetics of peppermint oil". Phytomedicine 12 (8): 612–6. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2004.10.007. PMID 16121523. 
  • Baker JR, Bezance JB, Zellaby E, Aggleton JP (October 2004). "Chewing gum can produce context-dependent effects upon memory". Appetite 43 (2): 207–10. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2004.06.004. PMID 15458807.