Thursday, May 1, 2008

Canada Wintergreen

Canada MintsWintergreen is one of those flavors that has been ruined for some by its use in medicines and salves.

Wintergreen is a natural flavor derived from a few sources, one of them being the Wintergreen plant. It’s also found in the North American teaberry and birch bark. Wintergreen is sometimes called Winter Mint, but isn’t really a mint (in the sense that it’s derived from a mint plant), but it still falls into the “aromatics” of flavors. (Still, I characterize it as a mint flavor, because it reminds me tooth powder - yes, I’m old enough to remember tooth powder.) It’s a flavor that’s more popular in North American than the rest of the planet. It’s also a flavor found in Root Beer and Birch Beer, two other uniquely North American flavors.

For many of us Wintergreen is associated with things like Pepto Bismol, Icy Hot or Ben Gay. So even if you enjoy the flavor, other people associate it with those things and when they smell it they ask if you have sore muscles or a queasy stomach.

Canada Wintergreen are built on the flavor and don’t seem to have suffered for it. They’re a simple candy, just a firm sugar-based dough with some gums & gelatin in there to hold it all together in a firm chalky tablet.

Canada MintsCanada Mints are made by Necco, who makes another slightly different version of these called Necco Wafers in different flavors (the only real difference in the ingredients is some dextrose and glycerine).

They’re a bit more intense than Necco wafers. The texture of the tablet is a little softer than a conversation heart. They’re crumbly, not too sweet and have a pretty intense wintergreen flavor, so much that it makes my mouth a little numb. (There’s also a slight and quick-to-dissipate bitter aftertaste, but I chalk that up to the presence of Red #40.) I prefer the texture of these to something like the LifeSavers Wint-O-Green (but there’s no spark-making with these).

I pretty much love these and don’t care of someone thinks that I’ve been rubbing muscle-soothing balms into my muscles (but my pink tongue is probably a dead giveaway that it’s candy related). The only problem I can think of with wintergreen is that it doesn’t really go well with coffee.

Canada Mints come in a peppermint version in white as well (and supposedly a spearmint version that I haven’t found in years). They’re supposedly available in rolls, but I only ever see them in bulk bins or in these types of bags. I used to buy them a lot when I was a teen and when I was in college, I think because it was a dirt-cheap candy, usually less than a dollar a pound. Now I just buy Neccos every once in a while (mostly because they’re available in rolls).

The package heralds that they’re fat free. They’re also 100% carbs, for those watching those. (About 12 calories each, for those who just track that.)

As a strange side note, there is a plant that’s known as Canada Mint, Corn Mint or simply wild mint (Mentha arvensis) which is the only mint species native to North America. It’s not wintergreen flavored though. The name Canada Mint in this case was because it was sold in Canada starting in the 1880s and looks pretty much unchanged since then.

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Name: Canada Wintergreen
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: KMart (Park LaBrea)
Price: $.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 118
Categories: Chalk, Mint, United States, Necco

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:32 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. I love these though I haven’t seen them in a while.  They always make me think of Pepto Bismal - flavor AND color are identical.  I wonder why?

    Comment by April on 5/01/08 at 9:18 am #
  2. You “pretty much love these” but they only rate a 6?

    Comment by bitguru on 5/01/08 at 10:21 am #
  3. I love wintergreen to pieces, it’s my favorite “minty” flavor. I didn’t know that “winter mint” = wintergreen (my allowed “duh” moment of the day) so I’ll have to keep an eye out for these.

    Comment by Sera on 5/01/08 at 10:45 am #
  4. Man, I love these things.  I found them in a roll just yesterday at Powell’s in Paso Robles—overpriced, sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in roll OR bag anywhere up here in the Bay Area, or maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough. 

    My favorite conversation heart is wintergreen, so these definitely fill that role for me. 

    Powell’s had the peppermint ones in rolls too.  Will have to check the Los Gatos branch to see if they have them.

    Comment by Michaela on 5/01/08 at 11:08 am #
  5. I get bags of these at CVS all the time—they have them on sale fairly frequently for 88 cents! I hate it when I get a stale bag—they’re like rocks. Fresh is best—I can’t stop eating them when they’re soft. The stale ones nearly crack my teeth.

    Comment by Kim on 5/01/08 at 1:56 pm #
  6. I love these too.  NECCO used to make a wintergreen pattie (just like a peppermint pattie, only better), but I have not seen one of those around in years.  Too bad, they were yummy.

    Comment by lynn on 5/02/08 at 4:01 am #
  7. I always associate wintergreen with slot cars. Back in the day when places to race those little electric cars were pretty common, the treatment of choice for their wheels was oil of wintergreen.

    I guess it *is* the same smell as some medicines, but I never made the connection. I’ll take your word for it.

    Comment by Russ on 5/02/08 at 5:38 am #
  8. I used to like wintergreen before I started college and now have to clean my own bathroom. (no mom to do it for me anymore) Now every time I eat something wintergreen, it makes me think of toilet bowl cleaner.

    Comment by Karen on 5/02/08 at 11:36 am #
  9. Gah, I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE these. When I was a kid I’d buy a bag and go through it in one sitting. :D

    Comment by Tindy on 5/03/08 at 3:51 am #
  10. “They?re supposedly available in rolls, but I only ever see them in bulk bins or in these types of bags.”

    ive actually never seen them in the bag before, and thought they only came in rolls. i think you used to be able to get them at places like Shoney’s and Cracker Barrel, usually at the registers for like .25 a roll.

    Comment by Doug on 5/05/08 at 10:46 am #
  11. I hate wintergreen with a passion.

    Comment by Randi on 5/05/08 at 1:39 pm #
  12. For the past year I’ve considered myself to have a serious problem. Much of my paycheck was spent on this wintergreen goodness. I thought the candy was perfect. Up until this morning that is. About an hour ago I bit into one of the little pink guys and it was hard as a rock. My tooth is killing me. How can I be assured when purchasing your candy from Tractor supply that it is soft as opposed to a taste similar to that of concrete mix? I’m extremely dissapointed.

    You may just have lost your most loyal customer.


    Ex-chief candy taster

    Comment by Kelsey Robb on 2/27/09 at 7:30 am #
  13. Ive grown up on Canada Wintergreen. My papaw had it all the time so he gave it to me sense I was little. So a few weeks ago I brought some to school and everyone loved it and wouldnt stop asking for more!

    Comment by Brittany North on 9/13/09 at 6:55 am #
  14. I love these, but like the Necco Wafers, they’re having serious quality control problems.  Traditionally, a Canada Mint is a firm but crumbly, semi-moist lozenge.  But lately they’re often hard as rocks and crystalline.  And I have half-a-molar to prove it!  I actually broke a tooth - and a molar to boot - on one of these paving stones.

    Maybe they make a different quality candy for the private labels (a CVS bag did me in).  Until I find a NECCO branded bag I’ve sworn them off.  Too bad, because they always taste great.

    Comment by JoeBob on 2/16/10 at 6:34 pm #
  15. I love the pink lozenges! My Grandmother always had them. Now I give them to my grandkids. I buy them in bulk at the Amish store and they are soooo fresh. Fresh is Best!

    Comment by Marilyn on 8/23/10 at 2:31 pm #
  16. I honestly think I’m becoming addicted to Canada Peppermints. I get the CVS brand bags for like 75 cents and easily put away a bag a day because they are sooooo good

    Comment by Julia on 7/18/12 at 6:43 pm #
  17. My dad used to eat these mints when I was little.  I called them “pink mints.”  They are hard to find in California.  I found a seller on eBay who sells 5 pounds for about $20.00, free shipping.  I just put them in zip-lock baggies to keep them from becoming “rocks.”  However, it is hard to remove the pink stains from my tongue.  Any hints?

    Comment by Sue on 7/14/13 at 3:15 pm #
  18. If you are one of the few people, like me, who love these candies, and are lucky enough to have Anthony Thomas in your area, get some of their wintergreen mints. They’re pink and soft, when fresh, and my most favorite candy ever!

    Comment by Jill on 5/18/14 at 5:10 pm #
  19. I have rolls and bags of Lifesavers Wintergreen mints at Homeland Stores and Dollar General
    I have found just the bags of individual wrapped mints at CVS, Target, and Wal Mart

    Comment by Mary on 5/06/15 at 10:39 am #
  20. I got some packaged as “Gold Medal” or something at the Las Vegas Strip CVS/Pharmacy opposite the MGM grand (up the street from New York New York), with Necco being credited for these. I love wintergreen too, Cybele, and found these like fat versions of the valentine Sweethearts and even fatter versions of the classic Necco wafers!!

    Comment by SJCarras on 12/16/15 at 11:41 pm #
  21. Oh..99 cents stores sell these under the trademark Necco name and packaged as shown in Cybele’s photograph at the top of this article (I live in Calif.)

    I guess with candy corn and circus peanuts not being trademarked, CVS and others can sell them by makers (Brach’s is maybe candy corn’s biggest maker, Spangler circus peanuts being the ones sold in these drug stores, with the imprint as the only giveaway, so you’ll never find “Made by Brachs,etc.” but the mints ARE trademarked by Necco, so they’re credited to Necco on the CVS bags, or, New England Confectionery Co.,)

    Comment by SJCarras on 12/16/15 at 11:46 pm #
  22. Love these mints but impossible to find locally (haven’t seen them in over 20 years). Walgreens/Rite Aid don’t carry them (we don’t have CVS), none at Wal-Mart, Target or any grocery store, never seen them in a dollar store (no Dollar General or Cracker Barrel either) I have to order via Internet to satisfy my craving. I did order the spearmint ones once too-good, but not as good as the Wintergreen.

    Yes, I know of tooth powder. When I was a pre-teen back in the 1960’s, my parents had a tin of Colgate Tooth Powder in a box of rarely used OTC products on the top shelf of the linen closet. It came in a metal painted oval-shaped tin with a lid that had little holes in it. You turned the lid to match the little holes up with the holes in a metal plate underneath; then you could shake out the tooth powder onto your brush. White powder, slight peppermint smell. Looked and felt pretty gritty; I am sure it would do a great job of removing tooth enamel. Never tried it myself. Now I wish I’d saved the tin!

    Comment by Kevin on 2/01/17 at 5:06 pm #
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