Beyond Breath Freshening
By Mary Ellen Kuhn
Form and functionality rule in the breath freshener business.
Remember when breath fresheners were designed to freshen your breath—and that’s about it?  
That’s no longer the case. The breath-freshening component is a given, of course. But beyond that, many of today’s new mint and gum offerings continue to raise the bar with respect to form and functionality.
On the form front, the big news continues to be the liquid-filled spherical mints pioneered by Momints marketer Yosha! Enterprises. The newest addition in that arena, which also includes Hershey’s Ice Breakers Liquid Ice, are liquid-filled Hiya Mints from Webb Candy Co., Rosemount, Minn. 
Gary Wilhite, Webb Candy Co. vice president of sales, says that both packaging and price point will help differentiate Hiya Mints from the brands introduced earlier.
“We have a unique package,” says Wilhite. “[It] has a dial on it. It’s about the size of a credit card, has a wheel on it, and one [mint] drops out into your hand. We’re going to be offering pretty good margins for the retailer.”
The Hiya mints feature lenticular labels, which—when the mints box is moved—create the impression that the person pictured on the label is waving.
The breath freshening bar also has been raised in terms of functionality. While still a small blip on the breath-freshener ingredient screen, the tooth-friendly sugar replacer xylitol is turning up on ingredient labels—and even within brand names—for chewing gums and mints such as Tundra Trading’s XliChew.
Perfetti Van Melle’s Mentos Cool Active Mints spotted on display at the International Sweets and Biscuits Fair in Germany earlier this year tout the fact that they are sugar-free and contain xylitol. On the back of the package, a message suggests that to “help restore the pH level in your mouth and therefore help keep your teeth healthy, chew two or three Mentos Cool Active after every meal or snack.” 
And if having healthier teeth seems like a worthy objective, how about a healthier heart?
Brand new nicotine-expelling gum XPL (Get it? It stands for expel.) launched its first major marketing initiative, “The Great American Chew-Out” on April 1. On that day, smokers were invited to log onto the gum’s web site or stop by a 7-Eleven store where it is sold and receive a free package.
“XPL is for the smoker who’s not ready to quit,” says Patrick Carroll, president of Westfield, N.J.-based XPL Innovations and founder of Freedom Tobacco, the manufacturer of Legal brand cigarettes. XPL, by the way, is a subsidiary of Yosha! Enterprises.  
“There are 900 million cigarettes smoked every day,” says Carroll. “Our research shows that 70 percent of all smokers use some sort of breath freshener after smoking. If the price point is within reason, I think you’ll see a lot of people jumping toward the product,” he says optimistically.
XPL has a suggested retail price of 99 cents per 12-piece blister pack. The gum is made using a proprietary blend of ingredients such as Chinese quince, green tea and licorice root, which all work together to help break down and expel nicotine naturally by aiding the liver in the production of a compound called cotinine.