My sweet hoard

We’ve been buy­ing Po­los for 70 years but sweets date back much fur­ther, their ori­gins in myth and medicine

The Field - - Young In The Field - WRIT­TEN BY SARAH PRAT­LEY

Polo Mints are cel­e­brat­ing 70 years in pro­duc­tion. Launched by Rown­tree’s in 1948, “the mint with the hole” is an old dog in no need of new tricks. Po­los are scoffed to­day in as­tro­nom­i­cal num­bers. Fig­ures from 2004 show that 38 mil­lion Po­los are pro­duced ev­ery day, 140 con­sumed per sec­ond and around 100 mil­lion sucked a week. Ap­par­ently, this is what it takes to keep our breath fresh.

Tim Richard­son, au­thor of Sweets: A His­tory of Temp­ta­tion and the world’s first con­fec­tionary his­to­rian, shares Bri­tain’s ado­ra­tion for Po­los. “I love Po­los,” he en­thuses. “I love tak­ing them out of the packet, us­ing your fin­ger. You can feel the hole and Polo em­boss­ing with your tongue. You can suck them down to a del­i­cate ring un­til it fi­nally breaks or you can smash it up.” It is a process fa­mil­iar to all.

Polo Mints’ 70th birth­day is ac­tu­ally be­lated. First man­u­fac­tured at Rown­tree’s York fac­tory in 1948, Po­los were de­vel­oped in 1939 – the idea hav­ing been bor­rowed from across the Pond long be­fore that. The com­pany man­u­fac­tured Life­savers, an Amer­i­can mint named for its lifebelt-like shape, for US troops sta­tioned in Bri­tain dur­ing the First World War. When the war ended the li­cence was with­drawn, so Rown­tree’s de­vel­oped its own. The re­sult was an

Top: The Oldest Sweet Shop in Eng­land, and, in­deed, the world, opened in 1827 Above: the Polo has been with us for 70 years; 100 mil­lion are con­sumed weekly

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