In 1780 London company Smith & Company released a new stomach aid called Altoids.
Smith & Company merged with confectioner Callard & Bowser in 1837. By this time the curiously strong mints were being promoted more as a breath mint than as a digestive aid.
The original packaging was said to look very much like today’s current tins except they were in boxes; tins were adapted in the 1920s to keep the mints from crushing. Boxes during the Regency would have been simple paper mache or carved wooden boxes. More dandified versions of gold or silver looked a lot like snuff boxes, and non snuff takers could use their comfit box as a fashionable accessory.
During the Regency era teeth brushing was regular among the gentry, and comfits (breath mints) were a popular aid to keep breath smelling sweet. Comfit was a derivation of confit, and originally were preserved nuts or berries in sugar syrup.
For information on the making of comfits check out this awesome post.
Comfits were similar to pastilles, in that they were promoted for medicinal properties. Pastilles, or a pill shaped compressed herbs, were originally burned to release medicinal properties much in the way of aromatherapy candles or incense. With the adoption of gum arabic (also used in comfits), the oily concoctions were able to be stabilized enough to be consumed through light chewing or sucking.
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