A Mint by Any Other Name…Is Probably Just Made Up.

I think it’s time for us all to get together, hold hands, and just agree that there’s no difference between “Peppermint,” “Spearmint,” and “Wintergreen.”

I was just at Walgreens and was overwhelmed by the array of mint flavors of gum alone (let’s not even talk about candy or “Mega-Extreme-Bi-Curiously-Strong Mints). I mean seriously — does anyone really say, “Curses…all they have is Spearmint. Only Wintergreen will pass through these lips!” And where does “Icy Blast” and “Fresh Burst” fall on the minty scale? Is “Wint-o-green” the red-headed step child of “wintergreen,” or is it just specifically marketed towards illiterates?

Apparently there is some sort of mint rating board involved, doling out names based on the power of mint included in each flavor. Which seems a little curious, on account of there’s just the one mint plant. Is it like wine, where they start making crap up like, “Ahh… this one has hints of toasty cedar, pine smoke, and brazzle-berry?” (All of which are actual wine descriptions — except for that last one, but would you really be all that surprised?) Personally, I think this whole “food taste” thing has gotten carried away into the Land of Complete and Utter Pretention. Sure, there are subtle tastes and flavors. But would anyone really know the difference between “mesquite,” “barbecue,” or “mesquite barbecue”unless the packaging told them?

To each his own, I suppose. Everyone has their own individual preferences and taste palate. I’m one of those people who isn’t necessarily “picky,” but there are a lot of things I just don’t care for. (And yes, there is a difference.) What has always amazed me is people’s reactions when I tell them I don’t like something. “Seriously? You don’t like tomatoes?” “What? How can you not like fish?!” And the curious response of, “You just don’t know what you’re missing!!” Um, actually I do. I’ve eaten it before, and that’s how I know I don’t like it. See…that’s how it works. I eat something; then I decide if I like it or not. It’s like magic, it is.

Some people take it so personally, too. “Oh, but you’ve never had my salmon!” Really? Did you take time out of your day to genetically modify salmon to make it taste like a pork chop? And if your salmon doesn’t taste like salmon, why in the world did you make it? Here’s a little reassurance from me to you: just because someone doesn’t like a certain food doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It’s no reflection on who you are, so just take a breath. I know you didn’t invent broccoli, so I’m not going to hold it against you or anything.

I get why people like some foods and why they don’t like others. They didn’t plan it. They didn’t just wake up one day and decide that, against all odds, they would hate guava no matter the cost. It’s just a question of taste. And when it comes to taste, there’s no real rhyme or reason. Unless you refuse to eat my salmon, which I swear, doesn’t taste “fishy” at all.

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11 Responses to A Mint by Any Other Name…Is Probably Just Made Up.

  1. That always makes me laugh: “This fish doesn’t taste fishy! I like fish…unless it tastes like fish.”πŸ˜›
    Great postπŸ™‚ Needed the laugh, and you’re so right!!!

  2. Mint is mint is mint. I can’t stand it in any form. I have to agree with you on the “oh, but you haven’t tried mine” peeps. Of course I’m going to suddenly like a food I have hated all my life just because “you” made it. Please load my plate up.

    Great post.

    • “Oh, *you* made it? Well I take back my 36 years of disliking that food!”πŸ™‚ Although to be fair, I did have that happen ONCE with asparagus. I usually loathe the stuff, but I liked it OK when a friend of mine made it. But that’s the exception to the rule.

  3. I will disagree on the mint comment. I do not like peppermint at all BUT I do enjoy spearmint and/or wintergreen gum. I would definitely know the difference in a blind fold test of the “mint” gum flavors. Seriously I would! AND I only like fish that doesn’t taste “fishy”…..lol. I’m one of “those” people. hee, hee. Interesting that I felt the need to defend the mint controversy….hmmmm.

  4. Dianne Westra says:

    Todd, I love your blog. If one is posted, I know I will start my day off smiling. (My dad loved spermint,I love peppermint,there IS a difference:)

  5. Wendy says:

    True story: My friend and I went wine tasting a while back, and had a flight of reds. There were “tasting notes” printed. We started chuckling when we read that one of the wines had “hints of briar”. What the hell does briar taste like?! Have you ever eaten it? It seems like it would be WAY too pokey to be worth trying. Unless, you know, you LIKE risking having your food injure you.

    Anyway, a couple sat down next to us, and were obviously new to the wine tasting experience, either that our they just took themselves WAY too seriously. My friend and I shared a few knowing glances and smirks, and then I turned to them and said, “What do you think about #4? Did you taste the briar?” with as strait of an expression as I could muster.

    “Mmmmmm. Oh yes. Delicious.”

  6. That’s hilarious, Wendy. “Briar.” Whatever. I’m going to start saying my Diet Coke has notes of toasted oak in it.

  7. Dee Vi says:

    I stopped reading after the start of the second paragraph…..

    Spearmint is spicita and Peppermint is peperita. Wintergreen isn’t even a mint. There are over a dozen different species of mint so unless you live on a different Earth than me I don’t know where you got this whole only one type of mint idea. They all have very different tastes and tones. Spearment is very sharp and “spicy” and can burn your mouth if too strong, its the least pleasant flavor but the most used since its fragrance is strong. Peppermint is subtle and sweet which is why it’s used in Candy Canes. Wintergreen is not a mint but is used to flavor things “as mint” because it smells like mint. As for the woman who mentioned the “briar” notes in the wine, yes, you can taste them. When they say notes of it, its more in reference to when you smell something and the fragrance is so strong you can taste it, that is generally what the plant tastes like and they add these notes by infusing their product with it just like anything lavender flavored. You don’t really see people eating lavender in their salads but there are plenty of products with lavender in them. Just because your pallet can’t identify the difference doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There is no conspiracy by the gum industry to trick us into buying different gums that all tastes the same.

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