Though not everyone agrees, the chocolate and mint combination is as divine a coupling as ever there was!
Second possibly only to its chocolate/peanut butter cousin, it is as popular as it is flavorful, and has made its way into hundreds of delectable products including ice creams, coffees, hot chocolates, liqueurs (and wines), cakes, and candies.
In non-edible products, its aromatic qualities have also made it a favorite for soaps, candles, air fresheners, cosmetics, and lotions.
But there is some discrepancy as to who first paired the match.
Who invented mint chocolate chip? Marilyn Ricketts is often credited, who won an ice-cream making contest in 1973 while a student at Torquay Catering College in England. However, this flavorful combo existed before this time made by brands such as Baskin & Robbins, and Girl Scout Cookies.
When an opportunity to create the best wedding dessert for Princess Anne presented itself in the form of a competition, Ricketts took the prize with her Mint Royale ice cream, a flavor now more commonly known as mint chocolate chip.
Mint chocolate chip ice cream is exactly that. It is a mint-flavored iced cream full of chips, shavings, or chunks of delicious chocolate.
Add to all this the creamy consistency of a creamy base, and its hard to go wrong with this ice cream.
Ricketts certainly made an impression with her creation almost 50 years ago, but she did not invent mint chocolate chip ice cream, and she certainly was not the first to use the two flavors together.
Mint Chocolate Chip Years Before
It is safe to say that, in modern times, the combination has been around from at least the turn of the last century.
At least one American ice cream maker for sure had a jump on Miss Ricketts royal ice cream, and that was Baskin Robbins.
When they opened the first store in 1945, chocolate mint was one of the 31 original flavors.
Californians were eating chocolate mint ice cream 25 years before the princess had it at her wedding!
Now, 75 years later, mint chocolate chip is still one of Baskin Robbins staple flavors.
Today, almost every American ice cream company has a chocolate mint marriage of some type among their varieties.
The International Dairy Foods Association lists mint chocolate chip as the fourth most popular flavor nationwide, only behind the old standards of vanilla, chocolate, and cookies and cream.
One known predecessor of the Baskin Robbins treat was a delightful chocolate mint truffle-like convection known as the Frango dessert sold first in a department store in Seattle, and then — when acquired by Marshall Field’s department store — in Chicago.
In 1926, this dessert was served frozen, like ice cream, but was eaten with a fork instead of a spoon because of its light, flaky texture.
The Frango mint, though originally a frozen treat, was still a candy, one of the many chocolate and mint combinations of the time.
In 1913, a Canadian chocolatier (and, interestingly, also an ice cream producer) opened a shop in Toronto named for the Canadian heroine Laura Secord and was said to have sold French Mints among his hundreds of homemade candy varieties.
Later chocolate mints are still American household names.
The forerunner of Andes Mints, originally called Andy’s Candies (named for inventor Andrew Kanelos) were first produced in Chicago in 1921. York Peppermint Patties were invented in 1940 in Pennsylvania. Pearson’s Mint Patties hailed from Minnesota in 1950, and After Eight Mints, though not American, were invented in the UK in 1962.
Perhaps one of the most famous chocolate mint pairings in the United States started with the Cooky-Mint in 1939.
Name doesn’t sound familiar?
Then perhaps you know it by its more modern name: Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies.
These amazing delights are the best-selling Girl Scout cookie, making up roughly a quarter of the organization’s cookie sales every year.
Like the Frango mints, a great deal of people prefer the cookies frozen, saying it’s the best way to enjoy the flavor blend of the smooth chocolate and refreshing mint.
Mint Chocolate Chip Origin Dating Back Even Further
The true origin of this dynamic chocolate mint duo, however, goes back much further than modern ice cream and candy makers.
Some sources say the pairing may have even begun with the Europeans. In the mid-sixteenth century, when Spanish conquistadors returned to Spain from the Americas, they brought Mayan cacao beans with them. And though the cacao bean was treasured for its medicinal value, Europeans, it turns out, were not that thrilled with its taste.
Evidently, the beans were strong and bitter and most often brewed into a hot and unpleasant drink. So people began to find ways to make the drink taste better. One of those ways was by adding mint sprigs, which were also believed to have medicinal value. The mint did indeed make the cacao more bearable, and once sugar was added, the combination took on a life of its own.
The combination’s good taste and medicinal properties was then enjoyed for hundreds of years. Even in the early 1900s, mint sprigs and chocolates were served after dessert in tea houses and dinner halls as a digestive aid after a hardy meal.
It is likely that these practices were the origin of the after-dinner mint, a still-popular way to soothe a full belly.
Mint Chocolate Chip, a classic to love or not?
It’s no secret, however, that mint chocolate chip, especially in its ice cream form, can be polarizing.
For those who love the creamy minty delight, it is the pinnacle of delish desserts.
But for those who hate it, there is nothing worse. Dissenters not only complain about the often artificial color — some of which are almost a neon green — but they also have a problem with the sweet minty flavor. These are people who compare the ice cream to eating or drinking frozen versions of unpleasant mint-flavored products like toothpaste and mouthwash, which makes the chocolate chips a source of confusion for their taste buds.
But regardless of haters, the chocolate mint combo is still up there among famous flavor twists.
According to the U.S. National Confectioners Association, the flavor even has its own day. On February 19 of every year, Americans are invited to partake of an array of mint chocolate products in celebration!
What goes into making yummy mint chocolate chip products?
The mint flavor is usually derived from either spearmint or peppermint oil, much of which is harvested from mint crops grown in Washington and Oregon.
Some products like Andes Mints also use crème de menthe for the minty flavor.
Crème de menthe, now known as a liquor, also started out as a medicinal substance and was invented by a pharmacist.
That’s because mint’s active ingredient is menthol, a substance which has been used medicinally since ancient times for everything from indigestion and sore throats to cramps and nausea.
The second half of our awesome twosome is that equally as wonderful product known as chocolate derived from the cocoa bean. And although different kinds of chocolates like milk, sweet, or semi-sweet might be used in combination with the mint, the most powerful combination is mint with dark chocolate.
There is something wonderful about chocolate with a bite against the exhilarating taste of mint.
Because mint oils are clear, green coloring is often added to give products a more minty-like look, especially for ice cream. Often this is accomplished with food coloring, though at least one creative creamery has used more natural substances, like spirulina and vegetable juices to provide a minty color.
Other products, like mints or truffles often forgo the minty colors, while others very often just flavor their chocolate products with the mint, making the two parts indistinguishable from each other.
- by My Sweet Mission