You'd think breath mints were a modern invention, but as long as people have had bad breath there has been some innovative soul who has tried to solve it. The earliest mention of a "breath mint" was from Ancient Egypt. In order to fight off bad breath, ancient Egyptians invented a form of breath mint. They would boil different herbs and spices – often frankincense, myrrh, and cinnamon – which was then mixed in with honey to form small candy-shaped pellets that could be sucked on and chewed. While these may not have tasted as good as our breath mints today, they did help freshen up mouths.
The next jump is right to Victorian times, the 1700's when the famed Altoid was invented. They created a mint lozenge during the reign of King George III. After some time passed, they began commercial manufacturing of the mint by using peppermint oils. These mints were made from boiled sugar, cut using a rotary tablet press, and then sold throughout the Europe and the United States. Oral-health-minded treats that also appeared during this time include chewing gum, which was created by inventor Thomas Adams in 1869. The people demanded fresh breath, and they would have it.
Although mouth wash was invented in the 1890’s, during the same intervening decades of tooth brushes and tooth paste, mouth wash was not portable, so breath mints started gain traction. By the 1950’s there were many makers of breath mints, but outside of the breath strip innovation in the 2000’s everything has stayed the same with the top breath mints being Altoids, Life Savers, Certs, Breathsavers, and Tic Tacs.
Since the beginning of human interaction the need to not be distracted in close communication by bad breath must have been prevalent. Since the earliest form of breath control was mint, from chewing it straight, to mixing it with other herbs, it was obviously a problem. From that point onward, I’m sure it was an issue of how do you carry breath mints, or their equivalent. Growing into a more modern culture, we’ve also created an etiquette concern about when to pop a breath mint. If you do it right in front of someone, that’s more of a signal that the person you’re talking to has bad breath, instead of your concern about your breath affecting them. Thus, the covert instant when to take in a mint has become something to plan, than something to just remember when necessary.
Many I’ve talked to will pop a breath mint when alone, just prior to their next encounter with people, or right after a meal, when it’s obvious that they’re accommodating themselves for the sake of others due to a potentially breath-dangerous meal. This, then, brings to the forefront the planning phase of not only when you pop a mint, but how and where you plan to carry them.
There are several methods, all following the packaging of the top breath mint vendors. We have the pop culture metal tin from Altoids, the clever slim, plastic flip case from those who sell breath strips, the typical roll type mints and the Tic Tac plastic, square bottle. The problem with every one of them is that it takes effort to extract a breath mint. Even worse, when talking about Altoids or Tic Tacs, just the process of carrying them creates noise as breath mints rattle around in the container. Not quite the silent situation we all desire.
So what are we left with? Everyone I talk to, both men and women, tend to just dump a few breath mints in their pocket or purse and call it good. Taking one out of their pocket as needed, during the day. This leaves me with a couple problems. The first is the chalky mess that some leave in your pocket. The residue can be frustrating unless you have a cleaner product like Tic Tacs or rolled mints like Certs, Life Savers and Breathsavers.