Who has not experienced the relief and satisfaction of sucking on a mint and blowing away those after-dinner cobwebs—blasting through, say, a garlic-muenster fog with a pellet of purest peppermint? Yet, gratifyingly refreshing though they are, mints do more than just sweeten the breath: They've been popular since the 18th century for their digestive qualities, too. They also help quench thirst, lift spirits, and ward off hunger pangs—and are tasty antidotes to the tedium (and possible nausea) induced by long car journeys. Here are our favorites from around the world.
These pretty, pink-and-white-striped oval mouthfuls are mildly minty and deliciously creamy. Resist the temptation to bite down, though, until their milkiness seeps through; as the tin advises, ''Your teeth will thank you.'' Handcrafted in small batches by California-based Charlotte's Confections, these are decadent mints for a sweet tooth—and an energetic jaw.
An essential accessory for the Japanese businessman since 1894, these minuscule silver bullets really pack a punch: Once you suck through the coating, the candy's ten medicinal herbs (fennel and cloves among them) grow increasingly, pervasively aromatic. Kaols are also, incidentally, a bar bet waiting to happen: The palm-size vial holds how many tiny pellets? 800!
**Uncle Joe's Mint Balls
Uncle Joe's Mint Balls are still made the way creator Ellen Santus first concocted them on her English kitchen stove in the early1900s. These hard peppermint toffees with the deep-brown color of pure cane sugar seem to linger on for as long as you can resist crunching into them. The tin is one to grace the sideboard, to be brought out only for especially deserving guests.
A crispy, crunchy mint envelope coats the chewy licorice core of these Danish pastilles. A hint of menthol cools the throat and nasal passages, and the licorice-mint combination restores vigor to the weary palate. The cheerful little box—the perfect size and shape for fitting into a back pocket—is as endearing as the candies it contains.
**Berlingots de Carpentras
The secret formula for these enchanting bonbons was perfected during the reign of Louis XVI, in the late 18th century. Since 1851 they've been made in the town whose name they bear. The silky-smooth, curved tetrahedrons fit snugly against the roof of the mouth, emanating the keen mentholated goodness of the finest peppermint of Provence.