Today is National Chocolate Mint Day and we present to you 5 refreshing minty facts. We will start with its origins in Greek mythology before eventually moving to the much loved ice cream and other chocolate minty desserts! Let’s go.
Mint has origins in Greek mythology. They start with Minthe, or Mintha, a nymph from the river Cocytus. This is one of the rivers that’s said to have encircled Hades, the god of the underworld. To keep the story short, apparently Minthe had the hots for Hades. She forgot her manners and was a bit rude to the powerful Persephone, the goddess of vegetation and the wife of Hades. Consequently, her punishment saw her transformed into the minty herb we know and love today!
Thus, ancient Greeks used minth with rosemary and myrtle in funeral ceremonies. There are also reports of its use as a fermented psychoactive beverage, kykeon. Let’s take this opportunity to dive into mint’s health applications.
For generations, we have used mint to alleviate various ailments. For example, we continue to turn to cups of peppermint tea to ease our digestive troubles. You can read a whole chapter on the applications of peppermint on the topic of eructation, borborygmus, and flatus here! The aromatic herbs are also a popular choice for oral hygiene items like chewing gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash. All of which show no signs of disappearing any time soon.
The main players here are peppermint and spearmint. As reported by University Professor Lester Wilson in his Encyclopedia of Food and Health: “Peppermint has a characteristic aromatic odor and taste, with a cooling sensation on the breath…” But when it comes to the alternative, “the odor and taste of spearmint are characteristic and aromatic but not followed by a cooling sensation.” Food for thought; the next time you compare the two, see if you can notice the difference!
Interestingly, mint’s applications as an insecticide, fumigant, and repellent have even been directed toward controlling termites and carpenter ants! One chemical, carvone, which occurs naturally in many essential oils like mint, even has an anesthetic role to play in aquaculture.
Continuing on the topic of plants, did you know there’s a chocolate mint plant? While its flowers are much loved by bees and butterflies, its leaves can be used in teas, desserts, and even breakfasts. Many people compare the taste of the plant to Andes chocolate mints. For more gardening information on the chocolate mint plant itself, you can look here. But what about the famous green ice cream flavour we all know and love?
According to Wikipedia, this popular ice cream was invented in 1973. There was a competition to provide an ice cream dessert for the royal Westminster Abbey wedding between Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips. Marilyn Ricketts, a culinary student, submitted her creation: Mint Royale. Though the name has changed, the ice cream’s sentiment remains the same.
Of course today we have mint chocolate fudge, Peppermint Patties, after dinner mints, and even chocolate peppermint pretzels! Why not explore the world of minty desserts near you? It is Chocolate Mint Day after all, and who knows, you might find a new favourite… Unless you’re a termite or carpenter ant!