The fresh herb mint, known for its properties for freshening breath and easing stomach aches, has a long tradition of being used in confectionery.
Records show that, as early as 1790, the company Altoids was producing lozenges for King George III using the herb; amazingly they are still popular wholesale sweets today. But what is it about this zesty herb which has kept it at the heart of the confectionery market for so long?
The truth is that the history of our relationship with mint stretches to way before anyone thought of turning it into a lozenge or sweet. Human beings have been using the herb for millennia for its numerous medicinal benefits.
Good For Our Health
Before it became popular in wholesale sweets, mint was used as a medicinal plant.
As an aid to digestion, mint leaves were often infused in hot water to create a tea, which is still served in many restaurants today. It also had the benefit at the end of a meal of cleansing the palate and freshening the breath.
It is the aroma of the herb which makes it so effective in aiding digestion, as the smell activates the salivary glands which produce digestive enzymes in the stomach, giving a boost to the digestive process.
The aroma has also given the herb a reputation for staving off mild depression and fatigue. The smell is a natural stimulant which can pep you up when inhaled or eaten.
It is mint’s germicidal qualities which have made it so effective at freshening breath. The flavour cleanses the palate, while the properties of the herb inhibit bacterial growth in the mouth, fighting oral odours on two counts.
It’s Use in Wholesale Sweets
It was the Victorians who first combined the essence of the herb with sugar to create the first breath-freshening sweet. Perhaps because people had long been used to the flavour of mint in medicinal and culinary use, it quickly became very popular.
Using flavouring from peppermint oil, spearmint or wintergreen, a range of sweets we would still recognise today were created by the Victorians. Humbugs, candy canes, chewing gums and after-dinner chocolates were all devised to make the most of this popular flavouring.
Sweets of Today
The tradition begun by Altoids in the eighteenth century for using the herb in a medicinal lozenge is continued today by wholesale sweets company frésh active, who combine it with eucalyptus oil and honey to create a confectionery that clears the airways and fights germs.
For the Italian company Leone the tradition of making menthol sweets has been going on for more than 150 years, with the recipe remaining the same all that time.
A Perfect Partner For Chocolate
The combination of rich dark chocolate with the digestion-easing herb has traditionally been a favourite for people to enjoy after a good dinner. Continuing this tradition, Divine has created a fair trade mint crisp bar using rich 70% chocolate, while Prestat has created dark chocolate wafers infused with the Black Mitcham variety of the herb.
Whether your customers are hoping to take advantage of its medicinal benefits or simply enjoy a great sweet treat, one thing is for sure: mints are here to stay. The humble herb has earned a place in our customers’ hearts.
Angelina Moufftard works for hf Chocolates, whose experience as wholesale sweets and chocolate suppliers brings a host of tasty treats to retailers across the UK. They stock a wide range of delicious minty confections from suppliers of the finest sweets and chocolate all over Europe.