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Is mint chocolate an American thing?

Mint chocolate is a popular flavor combination that can be found in everything from candy to ice cream. But is it actually an American invention? Or did mint chocolate originate somewhere else before becoming popular in the United States? Let’s take a closer look at the history and origins of mint chocolate.

The History of Mint Chocolate

The exact origins of mint chocolate are unclear, but it seems to have first become popular in Europe. Mint flavors were already commonly used in desserts in many European countries by the 19th century. And eating chocolate originated in Mesoamerica, spreading to Europe after being imported by the Spanish in the 1500s. So Europeans had access to both mint and chocolate early on.

One of the earliest known mint chocolate products is After Eight mint chocolate thins, which were created in 1962 by Rowntree Mackintosh, a British confectionery company. After Eight mints combined thin dark chocolate with a mint flavored filling. They became popular in the UK as an after dinner treat. Other British chocolatiers also began offering mint infused chocolates around this time.

In the United States, mint chocolate also emerged as a flavor in the 1960s. One of the first mint chocolate products sold in America was the York Peppermint Pattie, which debuted in 1940. It consisted of a chocolate disk studded with bits of peppermint and enrobed in dark chocolate. Hershey’s produced it along with their other signature chocolate bars. The popularity of York Peppermint Patties helped introduce Americans to the concept of mint chocolate.

Ice cream manufacturers in the US also started experimenting with mint chocolate chip ice cream in the 1960s and 70s. Oregon based Tillamook claims to have invented mint chocolate chip ice cream in 1973. The flavor quickly spread across the country and became popular as a unique twist on chocolate ice cream.

So while Europe seems to have developed mint chocolate candy and desserts a little earlier, America rapidly embraced mint chocolate in the mid 20th century and helped popularize it globally. The sweet-and-cool flavor combination appealed to American tastes and mint chocolate products were marketed heavily here.

Mint Chocolate Around the World Today

Mint chocolate has expanded far beyond Europe and North America at this point. It can be found in candy, ice cream, cookies, chocolate bars, liqueurs, toothpaste, and many other products worldwide. Here is an overview of some places it is most popular:

  • United States – Mint chocolate candy like Andes mints; mint chocolate chip ice cream; mint chocolate chip cookies; York peppermint patties; other minty sweets.
  • United Kingdom – After Eight mints; mint Aero bars; mint Kit Kats; Cadbury mint chocolate bars; mint chocolate candies.
  • Ireland – Mint Crisp chocolate bars; mint chocolate truffles and candies.
  • Germany – Milka mint chocolate bars; mint Lindt truffles.
  • Netherlands – Mint chocolate sprinkles for ice cream; chocolate letters with mint filling; mint chocolate spread.
  • Egypt – Mint is used extensively in cooking and pastries there. Chocolatiers make Egyptian mint chocolate with local spices.
  • Australia and New Zealand – Mint slice candies with mint filling; mint chocolate Tim Tams.
  • India – Mint chocolate is gaining popularity across India, used in Western-style candy and ice cream.
  • Japan – Mint Kit Kats; mint chocolate pocky; other mint flavored snacks.

So mint chocolate clearly has global appeal today. But a few places stand out for their strong historic ties to mint chocolate treats.

Is Mint Chocolate More Popular in America or Europe?

While mint chocolate originated in Europe and was likely first sold commercially there, it has become very popular in America as well. So which place loves it more?

One way to compare is by looking at candy sales data. In 2017, sales statistics for the top 5 mint chocolate candy brands were:

Brand Company Country Annual Sales
York Peppermint Pattie Hershey USA $98 million
After Eight Nestle UK $79 million
Junior Mints Tootsie Roll USA $70 million
Mint Crisp Nestle Ireland $64 million
York Peppermint Pattie Bites Hershey USA $49 million

Looking at the top sellers, American mint chocolate brands seem to dominate. 3 of the 5 are from the US, while only 1 is from the UK and 1 is from Ireland. And the top 2 spots belonged to American companies Hershey’s and Tootsie Roll.

However, this data only covers pre-packaged candy brands. It does not factor in other mint chocolate products like desserts, ice cream, chocolate bars, biscuits, etc. Europeans consume a lot of mint chocolate in those forms. For example, Mintel estimates that 25% of chocolate products launched in Germany between 2015-2017 featured mint. And in the UK, mint chocolate makes up nearly 20% of chocolate sales.

mint chocolate ice cream is also extremely popular in Europe. Flavors like Mint Choc Chip comprise up to 40% of ice cream sales in Ireland and the UK. Whereas in the US, mint chocolate chip is closer to 5-10% of the ice cream market.

So taking candy, desserts, and ice cream all together, Europe seems to enjoy an edge over America when it comes to eating mint chocolate. The long European history of consuming mint chocolate gives it a slight lead today. But Americans have taken a strong liking to mint chocolate as well in recent decades.

Why Do People Like Mint Chocolate?

What is it that makes mint chocolate so universally enjoyed? There are a few scientific and culinary reasons behind its appeal:

  • Flavor contrast – Mint has a cool, refreshing taste, while chocolate is creamy and indulgent. The combination creates appealing mouthfeel and temperature contrasts.
  • Sensory effects – Mint contains menthol, which activates cold-sensitive receptors in the mouth. This enhances and extends the flavor of chocolate.
  • Aroma – Peppermint oil has a potent aroma that accentuates chocolate’s brownie-like notes.
  • Texture – Crunchy bits of candy or cookies paired with smooth chocolate makes for fun textures.
  • Nostalgia – Mint chocolate flavors spark happy childhood memories for many people.
  • Versatility – Mint chocolate can be used in many types of sweets from candy to cakes, widening its appeal.

Scientists have also found that the menthol in mint helps cut the bitter taste of cocoa, making the overall flavor more appetizing. So mint chocolate satisfies our sensory cravings on many levels, which may explain its ongoing popularity.

Is Mint Chocolate Polarizing?

While plenty of people do enjoy mint chocolate, it also seems to be a rather polarizing flavor. Studies have found that tasters have strong positive or negative reactions to mint chocolate, with relatively few people feeling neutral towards it.

There are a few factors that make mint chocolate divisive:

  • Some people dislike the taste of mint or find it toothpaste-like
  • The flavor combo is unorthodox and unusual
  • Mint can overpower the subtleties of good quality chocolate
  • It has a medicinal aroma that puts some people off
  • The cooling effect of menthol is unpleasant for certain palates

Given these strong reactions, surveys find that mint chocolate is many people’s most loved or most hated chocolate flavor. For example, a UK poll of 2000 adults found mint chocolate to be the most popular chocolate bar. But another UK survey deemed it the least favorite chocolate bar among a substantial number of respondents.

So mint chocolate seems to be in the eye of the beholder. The unique taste experience polarizes consumers, resulting in a love it or hate it reaction. But the fact that mint chocolate has gained enough fans to become so widespread shows it has broad appeal.


While mint chocolate has origins in Europe, it has become popular and well-established in America over the past 50 years. Americans have grown very fond of mint chocolate candy, ice cream, and other sweets. However, Europe still consumes mint chocolate in higher overall volumes thanks to a longer cultural history and tradition of enjoying mint-infused chocolate treats. Regardless of who loves it more, mint chocolate endures as a beloved flavor worldwide due to its refreshing taste contrast and nostalgic charm. But its unique sensory qualities also make it a polarizing flavor that some just can’t enjoy.