I am obsessed with the sweet, fresh taste of peppermints. Every Christmas, in order to be festive, my parents and I would decorate the stair banisters in our house to look like candy canes, and my mom and I would also make a delicious peppermint ice cream pie with Oreo crust (find the recipe below). The sweetness of peppermints always reminds my family of the joy of being with loved ones during the holidays, while the freshness of the mint is a great segue into the new year, which is a time for us to feel refreshed and set new goals. Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a Merry Christmas as we learn about how this classic candy made its mark as a holiday staple. ❤
Peppermint and History
Let’s take a look at the history of peppermints according to organic gardner, Sally Painter. The name peppermint comes from Greek mythology in the form of a love triangle. As in all Greek mythologies, there are many versions of the story. The most popular one states that Hades seduced the nymph, Minthe, and his wife, Persephone, became enraged with jealousy and turned Minthe into a plant that people would constantly walk on.
Outraged by his wife’s interference, Hades imbued the plant with peppermint, so whenever the plant was crushed underneath footfalls, it would release a wonderful aroma. Hades hoped that by doing this, people would remember Minthe and recall how beautiful and full of life she had been. Persephone was furious over her husband’s tampering, because Minthe’s presence would forever linger in the air as a constant reminder of her presence. In another version, Persephone turned Minthe into peppermint (other versions state mint) as a way to save her from Hades’s seduction.
Photo Credit: Green 400 Magazine
Ancient Egyptians used peppermint. In fact, dried peppermint leaves were discovered in pyramids that carbon dated to 1,000 BC.
The Romans grew mint and peppermint in their gardens for its medicinal purposes, especially as a digestive aid. They also used mint and peppermint as a ground cover, especially between stepping stone pathways. They enjoyed the pleasing aroma the plants produced that greeted guests as they entered a home or a courtyard.
Peppermint is a natural occurring hybrid of spearmint and water mint. The first recorded cultivation of peppermint was recorded in 1750 when a new hybrid was created and grown in London. The first commercial growing of peppermint in the United States began in 1790 in the state of Massachusetts. Peppermint has always been considered a medicinal cure for various ailments, mostly digestive; however, there were many other uses prescribed for this special plant.
In 1846, peppermint growers in the US began using steam distilleries to replace the older method that required the boiling of the mint in order to release the oils. The peppermint oil was then skimmed off of the top of the water. This new method improved the quality of the oil and enhanced the production of peppermint oil. Over the centuries, peppermint has grown in popularity as more than just a digestive aid, although it’s still used for that purpose. A peppermint tea is a great way to ingest the herb. Other uses of peppermint include distilling the oil to produce flavoring. Peppermint flavoring is used in candies, medicines and hygienic products. The United States produces more than 75 percent of the world’s peppermint oil.
Peppermint and Politics
Did you know that peppermints as a preferred candy flavor can actually reveal quite a bit about one’s political ideology and engagement level? According to Praxis’ Steven Maxie, those who tend to vote Republican and participate in politics frequently choose peppermint patties as a favorite candy, while low-engagement Republicans tend to favor Skittles and Rolo. Democrats who do not turnout to vote often tend to favor Nerds and Airheads as their candy of choice, while high-turnout Democratic Voters tend to favor Babe Ruth, Almond Joy and Rasinets. Finally, for those who are middle-of-the road, Resee’s Pieces and Three Musketeers tend to suit those who fall on both sides of the aisle. Who knew that peppermints and candies in general could reveal so much about the political personalities of the public?
Photo Credit: Matt Blitz
Peppermint and Pop Culture
One of the most iconic symbols of peppermints being used in pop culture today is when singer Katy Perry wore a peppermint bra dress on her California Dreams tour. The singer made headlines after insurers suggested that she ditch her peppermint bra as a safety precaution due to a previous incident when her hair got caught in the wheels. Perry was forced to go with it. “I seriously doubt it could be lethal but they want a new bra designed that will not allow hair to be caught up.” said Perry. “What a girl does for her art.”
Perry’s iconic peppermint bra dress has become so popular that several creative people have come up with their own costume version of the dress, often worn on Halloween. Discover the process for recreating Perry’s iconic peppermint dress here.
Photo Credit: Billboard.com
Christmas Peppermint Pie
Photo Credit: Meagan Nelson
- Crush one box of chocolate wafers into tiny pieces to form crust inside 8” cheesecake pan
- Melt half a stick of butter
- Mix butter with wafers inside 8” cheesecake pan
- Bake in oven on 350 degrees for 15 minutes
- When done, fill pan with pink peppermint ice cream of choice on top of crust
- Spread whipped cream/heavy cream in a thick layer on top of ice cream
- Sprinkle with chocolate shavings on top
- Freeze for two hours
Source: Painter, Sally. “History of Peppermint.” Love To Know [Burlingame] N.D.: Print.
Source: Mazie, Steven. “Love Peppermint Patties? You Must Be A Republican.” The Big Think, Inc. [New York] N.D.: Print.
Source: “Please Take Your Bra Off, Katy Perry.” News Group Newspapers Limited [London] N.D.: Print.
Source: “Katy Perry Peppermint Dress: Progress.” Lyddi Design Costumes [San Francisco] N.D.: Print.