History of the world in 52 packs | 24. Tic Tacs

Sun Branding Solutions’ Matthew Kensall tells the story of the famous, uniquely packaged, little mints.

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Italian confectioner Ferrero developed its range of handy mints in 1969, launching them into the UK in 1970. From the start, the packaging was an integral part of the brand providing a handy, portable and tactile box that kept the contents in top condition.

Originally given the rather unoriginal name Refreshing Mints, the Tic Tac name was brought in in 1970 to mimic the sound of the mints being rattled in their crystal clear hard polystyrene box. Unlike other mints in the market which came in a soft roll, Tic Tacs’ innovative hard pack meant that the mints had longevity as the sweets were protected from being buffeted in pockets or bags.

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The box’s living hinge introduced an element of playfulness and ritual into eating Tic Tacs. It’s an early example of food packaging designed for convenience and to promote use through the consumer’s experience of the packaging, designing in joy. Each box contains about 36 mints, and the packaging means that the last is as fresh and satisfyingly rattly as the first, if a little scuffed through repeated shaking.

In 2009 the plastic was changed from a clear polystyrene to a polypropylene making the packs slightly more recyclable.

Over the years a staggering variety of flavours has been introduced, from early variants such Orange, Fresh Mint, Cinnamon and aniseed. Nowadays a new set of flavours is launched every summer and winter as well as limited editions to tie in with events such as film releases and holidays.

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During the 1990s, double packs were introduced, featuring flavour combinations such as Tangerine and Lime, Orange and Grape, and Berry and Cherry. More recently Tic Tac Mixers mints have launched featuring dual-flavoured sweets that change from one flavour to another as they melt.

Although it’s a favourite exercise of pack designers to envisage a new look for Tic Tacs, the iconic box has changed very little in more than 45 years, mainly because it was way ahead of its time when launched.

Matthew Kensall, packaging development manager, Sun Branding Solutions

Matthew Kensall, packaging development manager, Sun Branding Solutions

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