Blue Pill, Red Pill: What’s in a Tic Tac Mint?

Tic Tac BlueRaise your hand if you have mints in your purse or backpack. Chances are that if you do, they are tic tacs. The iconic brand has been around for ages, but do you know what it is really made of?

Here is the ingredient list:

sugar, maltodextrin, natural and artificial flavors, rice starch, gum arabic, magnesium stearate, carnauba wax, blue 1.

Sugar and maltodextrin (a starch) are mixed to form the sweet pill like shape. The “powermint” flavor comes from the natural and artificial flavors. The rice starch and gum arabic help keep everything bound together. Magnesium stearate is a filling agent – helps bulk up a food. It is also a lubricant that is used in the supplement industry to prevent the pills from sticking to the manufacturing machines.

Carnauba wax is a natural wax sourced from the leaves of Brazilian trees that is used to create the shine on each tic tac. Blue 1 is an artificial color, which we would be better off not consuming. In Europe, the tic tacs are all white, with the packages having different colors to differentiate the flavors.

Not an amazing collation of ingredients. But then again, it’s not a massive part of anyone’s diet. In fact, each “mint” is just 1.9 calories and could legally be labelled as 0 calories (the FDA allows anything with less than 5 calories to be marked as zero).

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  • carol

    Actually, the serving size is supposed to be 2 grams (=4 pieces), not 1/2 gram (the weight used for the Nutrition Facts, according to most web sites, since Tic Tac doesn’t show full nutrition info on their site; ignore SparkPeople’s serving size info — they got the decimal place totally wrong), so it appears that Tic Tacs aren’t in compliance with FDA labeling. Two grams is the smallest serving size for a candy, and it is for just this kind of product — “hard candies, breath mints.” Therefore, they should be showing 8 calories per serving.

    • Julia Shub

      “Two grams is the smallest serving size for a candy” -why does it matter here? Do you really decide how many mints to eat according to FDA minimum serving size ? They also state “2 calories” per mint which makes it very easy to calculate…Easier than knowing that serving size is 2 gram…

      • carol

        That’s like asking does it matter if some people pay their taxes and others don’t; or if some companies give false nutrition info and others don’t. But besides the legal aspect, how would you compare one brand of mints with another if each uses a different serving size? Two grams of Tic Tacs = 4 mints (that’s what they would be required to state… not just the grams weight). Not tough to calculate. Plus you can compare with other mints, which should be using the same 2 grams as the basis for their nutrition info. BTW, serving sizes are used in nutrition labeling NOT to tell you how much you should eat, but so packages of similar-category foods can be compared on a similar portion size basis… much easier than when each mint/etc. uses a different portion size (especially when food apps use the straight Nutrition Facts data and don’t always show the portion size/weight that was used).

  • James Cooper

    Blue 1 is considered safe by the USDA. The reason it was withdrawn in Europe was because of a paper by Jim Stevenson which has now been discredited.

  • Lauren

    Not a large part of anyone’s diet…not so sure people pop mints and gum with greater volume than you think. And whether Blue 1 is ok/”safe” there are better mint options, fresh parsley for instance (my “green #1)