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A package of Sen-Sen breath fresheners

Sen-Sen was a type of breath freshener originally marketed as a "breath perfume" in the late 19th century by the T. B. Dunn Company and then produced by F&F Foods until they discontinued the product in July 2013. Sen-Sen bore a strong similarity to Vigroids, a liquorice sweet made by Ernest Jackson & Company, Ltd.

Sen-Sens were available in small packets or cardboard boxes. Similar to a matchbox of the time, an inner box slid out from a cardboard sleeve revealing a small hole from which the tiny Sen-Sen squares would fall when the box was shaken.

Sen-Sen's ingredients were licorice, anise, gum arabic, maltodextrin, sugar, and natural and artificial flavors.

Popular culture[edit]

Sen-Sen's distinctive, strong scent, its nostalgic association with earlier time periods (particularly the 1930s through the 1960s), and its frequent use to cover up the odoriferous evidence of perceived vices such as drinking and cigarette smoking led to many references in various media.

  • Billy Joel's 1984 song "Keeping the Faith", about coming of age in the 1960s, mentions "a fresh pack of Luckies and a mint called Sen-Sen".
  • Stephen King's book Four Past Midnight has a story called the Library Policeman that mentions Sen-Sen.
  • A brief reference occurs in the 2004 Martin Scorsese motion picture, The Aviator. Howard Hughes and his press agent Johnny Meyer are speaking to each other at a "hip" Hollywood club. The pair are interrupted by a cigarette girl with the line: "Cigar, cigarettes, Sen-Sen?"
  • Another brief reference is in The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck, Chapter 7.
  • Robert Culp in the 1959 CBS TV show "Trackdown" (Texas Rangers) lists items including Sen-Sen in the pocket of a dead man, Manny Brock, found shot in a hotel room.
  • IRS Agent Reginald Lawrence eats Sen-Sens in Walter Mosley's second Easy Rawlins novel, A Red Death (1991).[1]
  • W. Somerset Maugham has a character in his 1934 novel Of Human Bondage called Miss Bennett, a buyer of petticoats in a department store, who chews Sen-Sens.
  • Robert Asprin has a character called "The Sen-Sen Ante Kid" in his novel Little Myth Marker.[2] The character plays Dragon Poker and always starts the game by adding a Sen-Sen to the ante.
  • Robert Penn Warren references a character named Sen-Sen Puckett "who chewed Sen-Sen to keep his breath sweet".[3] Character Marvin Frey is also described as having "...breath sweetly flavored with Sen-Sen and red-eye" in Warren's novel All the King's Men.[4]
  • In Chuck Palahniuk's novel "Damned" sen-sen and other less desirable candies are scattered around Hell.
  • They are referenced in the song "Ya Got Trouble" from the 1957 musical comedy The Music Man as a way to cover up the smell of cigarettes.[5]
  • Yogi Yorgesson (a stage name for comic Harry Stewart) recorded a parody of "My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii" entitled "My Little Old Shack in Minneapolis, Minnesota". One line says, "Got a pocketful of Sen-Sen for my sweetheart Hedy Jensen".
  • In Zora Neale Hurston's novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God", chapter 9, it is told about Hezekia who works in Janie's store that "His sense of ownership made him honest too, except for an occasional jaw-breaker, or a packet of sen-sen. The sen-sen was to let on to the other boys and the pullet-size girls that he had a liquor breath to cover."
  • Zippy the Pinhead mentions Sen-Sen from time to time.[6][7]
  • Another brief reference is in the third episode of season one in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel by a jazz musician after smoking a joint.
  • In Betty Smith's classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie's mom's old best friend Hildy O'Dair "chewed sen-sen, knew all the latest songs and was a good dancer". ch 7
  • In the Gwendolyn Brooks classic Maud Martha, a stranger who asked Maud Martha to dance as her husband dances with Maella "reeked excitingly of tobacco, liquor, pinesoap, toilet water and Sen Sen". ch 19
  • In the M*A*S*H TV comedy from the 1970s, Season 6, Episode 25, "Major Topper," a patient has difficulty swallowing pills. Colonel Potter is encouraging him to try it anyway when the patient says, "Doc, I can't swallow pills -- not even Sen Sen."
  • Another brief reference is in the Laverne & Shrley episode entitled "Good Time Girls" in season 2. Laverne said, "They got dates. I saw Lenny buying Sen-Sen."
  • In the 1973 movie "Paper Moon" in the General Store $20 scam scene, Ryan O'Neal buys a pack of Sensen.
  • In Season 4 Episode 6 of King of Queens Ticker or Treat, while Arthur is in the Hospital, he asks for a packet of Sen-Sen and a copy of Gent magazine.
  • In Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling uses Sen-Sen to describe her internal vision of Dr Chilton's life... "the ache of his whole yellow smiling Sen-Sen lonesome life"
  • Stephen King's book 11/22/63 mentions Sen-Sen: "I could smell Vitalis in his slicked-back hair and Sen-Sen on his breath" (166).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mosley, Walter, A Red Death, in The Walter Mosley Omnibus (London: Picador, 1996): 220.
  2. ^ Asprin, Robert, and Jody Lynn Nye, Little Myth Marker,
  3. ^ Gale, A Study Guide for Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, Cengage Learning via Retrieved 2017-03-26.
  4. ^ Warren, Robert Penn. All The King's Men. Foreword by Joseph Blotner. 1946. San Diego: Harvest, 1996. 73.
  5. ^ (Ya Got) Trouble" lyrics
  6. ^ "The Happy Couple", 2012-09-08.
  7. ^ "Whip it",, 1996-11-02.