Where Does Peppermint Come From?

Peppermint is actually a hybrid of two herbs: spearmint and winter mint. As a hybrid, it can only spread by roots or growth by stolons (horizontal, stems that help with reproduction). Peppermint grows wild all over North American, Europe, and Australia.It can grow up to 3 feet tall and has pale purple flowers.

where does peppermint come from?

Morocco is the largest grower of peppermint in the world, producing over 93,000 tons of peppermint every year, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Nonetheless, the United States loves its peppermint- we are the world’s largest producer of peppermint oil. That’s 80% of the world’s production of peppermint oil! In the United States, Oregon is the largest producer of peppermint. 

As is the case with all food products, quality counts. The unique characteristics (such as its bold flavor) of American peppermint oil makes it the preferred peppermint by confectioners worldwide. It’s strong, sweet taste means American peppermint is rarely used in combination with synthetic peppermint flavors in food. 

Peppermint is used in everything from soap to medicinal ointments—but personally, we prefer it in chocolates and candy. 

Holiday Peppermint Bark Tin

When was peppermint candy invented?

In early history, mint was already used by the Native Americans, but colonists brought and introduced peppermint to the US. In the 1700s, peppermint farms populated the colonies. While not a candy, the first recorded use of peppermint that comes close is the Altoid. Used to settle stomachs, the Altoid was introduced in 1780. 

Peppermint fudge bites for christmas

Even so, it was not until 1846 that peppermint’s potent oil was extracted more efficiently. The invention of the steam distillery meant mint no longer had to be boiled and skimmed. These new distilleries made peppermint extract easier to make and produced a higher quality product. 

No one knows for sure when the first peppermint candy came about, but by 1866 peppermint candy canes were commonly known sweet treats. Making them by hand, however, was a difficult process. In 1919, the Famous Candy Company wanted to make candy canes in mass. By that time, candy canes had become associated with the Christmas season.The invention of the Keller Machine made the sweet dream of mass production come true. The machine was invented by the owner of the Famous Candy Company’s brother-in-law—a Catholic priest. 

Before peppermint candy, peppermint was primarily used medicinally. Now, peppermint is used in a wide variety of products, but it has a special place in holiday sweets and chocolate. From Candy Cane Cocoa to Peppermint Fudge Bites, the popularity of peppermint is here to stay.

Mint in History

References to mint go all the way back to Egypt and the Middle East as long ago as 1500 BCE. Archeologists have even found dried peppermint leaves in the pyramids. It was the ancient Greeks, however, who gave mint its common English name. According to Greek mythology, there was a nymph named Minthe. Persephone, the goddess of spring growth, turned her into a lowly plant in a fit of rage, so that people could walk all over her. Some versions say that Hades, Persephone’s husband, felt badly for Minthe, and gave her a strong, sweet smell. That way, when people walked by her they would notice her loveliness. Whatever the story, the word mint comes from that myth. 

Happy Holidays! Keep warm. Stay warm with holiday cocoa!