Happy Birthday Polo mints: The iconic mint with a hole is 70

Polo is celebrating its 70th birthday

The mint sweet is celebrating its 70th anniversary

The mint sweet is celebrating its 70th anniversary

 

The mint with the hole is celebrating its 70th birthday, and if you’ve ever wondered what happens to the middle portions of the frosty little circles, you are not alone.

The consumer services team at Nestlé, which makes Polo mints, receives hundreds of calls asking that very question every year. The answer, of course, is that the senior citizen of the confectionery world is made that way, without a hole.

The pressure that is applied to the mints when they are being formed is the equivalent of the weight of two elephants jumping on them (75 kilonewtons), something to bear in mind if you are a cruncher rather than a sucker.

The factory that makes the mints, in York in the UK, churns out 1.37 million packs a day, at a rate of 22,000 sweets per minute, and it is also home to KitKat, Aero, Milky Bar, and rather fittingly, Yorkie.

Original 1954 advertising for Polo mints, which were first made in 1948
Original 1954 advertising for Polo mints, which were first made in 1948

This week, bucketloads of the minty treats will be consumed in Dublin 4, dished out as rewards to the equine population in residence at the Dublin Horse Show.

But mint is not the only version of Polo that has been manufactured. Many will remember the fruit version, and in the confectionery’s glory days of the 1980s, several varieties were made. Ice came in a blue rather than green wrapper and had a more mellow flavour, and Tropical was a mixture of banana, melon, coconut and other flavours.

In India they were once manufactured in paan flavour, combining betel leaf with areca nut, while Indonesian consumers favour a mint and fruit mashup called Mint O Fruit. Cinnamon, buttermint and citrus sharp (lemon and lime) have also hit the sweet shop shelves at various times.

Nestlé India took the packaging of the sweets in a new direction when, in 2011, it commissioned Wendell Rodricks to design wrappers for a fashion-influenced range of Polo mints.

The new flavours of lime mojito, watermelon sorbet, peach schnapps and cocoa mocha came encased in packaging featuring bright Indian colours, and were an immediate hit, with a spokesperson for Nestlé saying that 80 per cent of the limited edition stock sold out within a couple of weeks of the launch.

In 1994 the manufacturers changed the recipe for the sweets, making them 13.063 per cent mintier – news that was communicated in the UK via a £400,000 radio-only advertising campaign. The same year, the company failed in its bid to expand its trademark to cover the shape of the mint, in any size or colour, and without the word Polo on it.

But the original is the one with the most loyal fan base – and they were not amused when, in 1995 the manufacturers placed newspaper ads revealing that in accordance with EEC Council Regulation (EC) 631/95, they would no longer be allowed to make mints with holes.

The following year, building on the success of the April Fools’ day gag, they began selling Polo Holes, describing them as “the hole with the mint”.

Happy birthday Polo.

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