Long one of America’s most popular mints, Certs was the first breath mint to be nationally marketed in the United States, and has been a fixture at American drug stores and convenience stores since its debut on the market in 1956.
Though classified as mints, Certs actually contain no oils of any mint plant. Instead, as has long been advertised, the mints contain "Retsyn," a trademarked name for a mixture of copper gluconate, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and flavoring. It is the copper gluconate in Retsyn which gives Certs its signature green flecks.
Not a true disk, a Certs exhibits a pronounced bulge emerging from the edge, subsiding to form a depression at the center. Certs were not always this shape. Prior to the current form, they were more regular discs with beveled edges. Each Certs is counter embossed on one side with the legend "CERTS RETSYN" in letters about 3 mm tall, approximately midway between center and edge, each letter oriented away from the center.
Cadbury-Adams also manufactures Certs Powerful Mints, available in peppermint and spearmint and wintergreen. Certs Powerful Mints are small, Tic-Tac-like mints. They are described by the manufacturer as a "breath-freshening mint" rather than simply a "breath mint," the description used for standard Certs.
Cadbury-Adams also offers Certs Cool Mint Drops, described as a "breath drop." These medium sized oval-shaped mints are available in flavors named Cinnamint, Freshmint, and Peppermint. Certs Cool Mint Drops are packaged in slide top paper boxes and feature a liquid center which is claimed to be "intensely flavorful."
In the 1960s and 1970s, Certs was heavily advertised on American television with a famous campaign featuring two attractive young people earnestly arguing over the proper classification of the mints. One participant would assert that "It’s a breath mint!" while the other would assay a rebuttal by stating that "It’s a candy mint!" This taxonomic dilemma would finally be cleared up by the unseen announcer, who would achieve synthesis by explaining that Certs is "Two, two, two mints in one!". Saturday Night Live lampooned the ads with a fictitious product called "Shimmer" ("It’s a floor wax! It’s a dessert topping! It’s two, two, two products in one!'), and indeed the phrase "Two, two, two [insert almost any word here] in one" remains an American idiomatic expression into the 21st Century.
In 1999, the United States Customs Service classified Certs as a candy mint for tariff purposes (candy is taxed differently from oral hygiene products). In the ensuing suit before the United States Court of International Trade, Cadbury introduced expert testimony that Certs stimulate the flow of saliva, thus flushing bad odors from the mouth, and that its flavors and oils mask bad breath. But the court ruled that, since Certs do not contain anti-bacterial ingredients, they are, indeed, simply a candy mint. This ruling was, however, overturned at the Federal Court of Appeals, making Certs legally a breath mint. The Supreme Court of the United States is not known to have received any writs of certiorari that would enable it to hear the case.
- ^ http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-federal-circuit/1195577.html WARNER-LAMBERT COMPANY v. UNITED STATES
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1In the United States, these products are marketed by The Hershey Company (but made by Kraft's Cadbury subsidiary) under a prior licensing agreement.
2This brand is owned by Rudolf Wild GmbH and manufactured under license by Kraft Foods only in the United States, Canada, and Greenland.
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