Mint and its various forms have long been used as health aids. John Gerard, author of The Herball (1597) recommends it for everything from a “stomacke” ache to contraception. 200 years later, it was still used to ease discomfort and freshen the breath. No wonder the after dinner mint came into being. One of the oldest commercially produced mints is the Altoid, “The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Peppermints “. Though now manufactured in many flavors by the American company, Wrigley, they were originally created in the 1780’s by London-based Smith & Company. By the 1800’s they had been incorporated into the Callard & Bowser confection company.
Not everyone could had the means or desire to purchase their peppermint candies. Candy recipes abounded in period cookbooks, like this one from Martha Washington’s Booke of Sweetmeats:
To Make Mint Cakes
Take a pound of sugar finely beaten, & put to it 3 or 4 spoonfulls of mint water, & boyle it up to a candy. The take some mint & shread it small & put it to yr candy and drop it as you did the rose cakes, & set them in ye sun or a stove to dry.
To Make Cakes of Roses
Take roses & cut the whites from them after they are pluckt, then stamp& streyne them with the damask rose water & ye juice of leamons. Then put it in a skillet with as much sugar as your juice will wet. Then set it on a soft fire & let it boyl softly till it be pritty stiff. Then drop it on a plate, & If it stand, it is enough. Then drop it in little cakes and set them in the sun to dry.
A modern recipe for Mint candies can be found here Cooks.com
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