Polo Mints is a brand of breath mint whose defining feature is the hole in the middle. The peppermint flavoured Polo was first manufactured in the United Kingdom in 1948, by employee John Bargewell at the Rowntree's Factory, York, and a range of flavours followed. The name derives from "polar", referencing the cool, fresh taste of the mint.
|Product type||Breath mint|
|Tagline||"The mint with the hole"|
Polo mints, which resemble the confectioneries Life Savers and British Navy Sweets, were developed by Rowntree's in 1939, but their introduction to the market was delayed until 1947, by the onset of the Second World War. Polo fruits followed soon afterward.
Over the years Rowntree and Nestlé have come up with variations of the original Polo mint. Some of these have been successes, whereas others have failed. None has been as successful as the original Polo mint.
- Spearmint: "Cool look, cool taste." These Polos have a strong spearmint flavour and aroma. The original design of the sweets had turquoise flecks on them, and were mildly triboluminescent, but now are clear.
- Fruit: These are boiled sweets in several fruit flavours, all in one tube. Flavours include strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, lemon, and lime.
- Polo Gummies: Fruit-flavoured soft gummy sweets in the Polo shape.
- Sugar free: Sugar free version of the original Polo containing sorbitol.
- Mini Strong Polos: Tiny Polos (about 0.5 cm in diameter) with a strong minty flavour. They were packaged in a box shaped like a Polo Mint. They were also available in a not-so-successful flavour
- Smoothies: These creamy sweets came in flavours such as blackcurrant, sunshine fruits and strawberry.
- Citrus Sharp: Lemon and lime flavoured. Discontinued in the United Kingdom.
- Butter Mint Polos: mint flavour butterscotch.
- Strong/Extra Strong: "We like them strong, but silent." A rival for Trebor, these were very hot. Discontinued in the United Kingdom.
- Ice: These came in a shiny blue wrapper, and had a cooler mint taste.
- Paan flavoured (previously available in India).
- Mint O Fruit: (available in Indonesia). These come in the following flavours: Raspberry Mint, Blackcurrant Mint, Peppermint, Lime Mint and Cherry Mint. These polos come with the following slogan "Think Plong! Masih Ada Bolong!" These are also sold in the United Kingdom in some Poundland stores.
- Holes: These were a plastic tube of small mints approximately, but not exactly, the size of the hole in a standard Polo mint.
Before this, Rowntree had already experimented with different Polos in the 1980s. Polo Fruits were always available, but they briefly made:
- Lemon: Similar to the citrus flavour that Nestlé put out around 10 years later, but not identical.
- Orange: similar to Lemon, but in an orange packet.
- Tropical Fruit: included Banana, Melon, Coconut and others
- Globes : small capsules filled with mint-flavoured liquid in a small box with a flip lid
A Polo is approximately 1.9 centimetres (0.75 in) in diameter and 0.4 centimetres (0.16 in) thick, with a 0.8-centimetre (0.31 in)-wide hole. The original Polo is white in colour with a hole in the middle, and the word 'POLO' embossed twice on the upper flat side of the ring, hence the popular slogan The Mint with the Hole.
Polos are usually sold in individual packs of 23 mints, which measure about 10 cm tall. The tube of Polos is tightly wrapped with aluminium foil backed paper. A green and blue paper wrapper, with the word 'POLO', binds the foil wrapper, with the Os in 'Polo' represented by images of the sweet. For the spearmint flavour, the paper wrapper is turquoise in colour, and the Extra Strong flavour is in a black paper wrapper.
When the Trade Marks Act 1994 was introduced in the United Kingdom, Nestlé applied to register the shape of the Polo mint. The application featured a white, annular mint without any lettering. This application however was opposed by Kraft Foods, the then owner of Life Savers, and Mars UK, because of the lack of distinctive character of the mint in question.
Nestlé's application was allowed to proceed if it agreed to narrow the description of the mint i.e. the dimensions of the mint were limited to the standard dimensions of the Polo mint and that it was limited to 'mint flavoured compressed confectionery’.
Kraft Foods and Swizzels Matlow (owner of British Navy Sweets) have made similar applications for annular sweets bearing the mark LIFESAVERS or NAVY. Nestlé has tried to oppose these trademark applications but has failed as the court ruled that customers would be able to distinguish between a Polo, a Lifesaver and a British Navy mint as all of them have their marks boldly and prominently embossed on the mint.
During the 1980s, Peter Sallis provided the voiceover for television advertisements. With the launch of the spearmint variety, a new television campaign featured a voiceover by Danny John-Jules, using a voice similar to the one he employed as the Cat on Red Dwarf.
In 1995, the company launched a major advertising campaign produced by Aardman Animations, which showed animated Polos on a factory production line. In one, a scared Polo without a hole attempts to escape, but is restrained by the hole punching machinery. Polo experimented with other forms of advertising in the end of the 1990s. In 1998, they collaborated with PolyGram for a compilation album, Cool Grooves, which reached No. 12 in the UK Compilation Chart on 5 September that year.
- "Polos – The Mint with the Hole". BBC. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
- Bennett, Oliver (9 August 2004). "Why we love things in mint condition". The Independent. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
When US troops were stationed over here during the war, Rowntree started to manufacture Lifesavers for them under licence. When the war drew to a close, the licence was withdrawn. So in 1947, Rowntree came up with its own brand of holey mint, the mighty Polo
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- Ward, David (27 July 2004). "A legal case with a hole in the middle". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
- "Chart Log UK: Various Artists (Compilations)". www.zobbel.de.