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Polo mints.jpg
An opened packet of Polo mints.

Polo Mints are a brand of confectionery whose defining feature is the hole in the middle. The peppermint flavoured polo was first manufactured in the United Kingdom in 1948 by employee John Bargewell at the Rowntree's Factory, York, and a range of flavours followed. The name ‘Polo’ is reportedly from the word ‘Polar’, which symbolises the cool and fresh feeling one gets from sucking a Polo.



Polo mints were developed by Rowntree's in 1939, modelled on the US confectionery Life Savers,[2] but their introduction to the market was delayed until 1947 by the onset of the Second World War.[2] Polo fruits followed soon after.[3]

Polo is still Britain's best selling mint brand with approximately 20 million mints produced every day and an average of one hundred and fifty Polos eaten every second.[4]


Over the years Rowntree and Nestlé have come up with variations of the Original Polo mint. Some of these have been successes, whereas others have failed. None has been as successful as the Original Polo mint.[1] Here are all the current Varieties that are suitable for vegans.

  • Spearmint: "Cool look, cool taste." These Polos have a strong spearmint flavour and aroma. The original design of the sweets had turquoise flecks on them and were mildly triboluminescent, but now they are clear white to reduce E numbers.
  • Fruit: These are boiled sweets in several fruit flavours, all in one tube. Flavours include strawberry, blackcurrant, Orange, Lemon and Lime
  • Sugar free: Sugar free version of the Original Polo containing sorbitol.

The mint

A Polo is approximately 1.9 cm in diameter, 0.4 cm deep and has a 0.8 cm wide hole. The original Polo is white in colour with a hole in the middle, and the word 'POLO' embossed twice on one side around the ring, hence the popular slogan The Mint with the Hole.[1]

Ingredients of the main variety include: sugar, glucose syrup, modified starch, stearic acid (of vegetable origin), lubricant (570) and mint oils.


Polos are usually sold in individual packs of 23 mints, which measure about 10 cm tall. The tube of Polos is tightly wrapped with aluminium foil backed paper. A green and blue paper wrapper, with the word ‘POLO’, binds the foil wrapper, with the Os in ‘Polo’ represented by images of the sweet. For the spearmint flavour, the paper wrapper is turquoise in colour, and the Extra Strong flavour is in a black paper wrapper.[1]


When the Trade Marks Act 1994 was introduced in UK, Nestlé applied to register the shape of the Polo mint. The application featured a white, annular mint without any lettering. This application however was opposed by Kraft Foods, the then owner of [[Life Savers, and Mars UK because of the lack of distinctive character of the mint in question. Nestlé’s application was allowed to proceed if it agreed to narrow the description of the mint i.e. the dimensions of the mint were limited to the standard dimensions of the Polo mint and that it was limited to ‘mint flavoured’.[1][5]

Kraft Foods and Swizzels Matlow (owner of British Navy Sweets) have made similar applications for annular sweets bearing the mark LIFESAVERS or NAVY. Nestlé has tried to oppose these trademark applications but has failed as the court ruled that customers would be able to distinguish between a Polo, a Lifesaver and a British Navy mint as all of them have their marks boldly and prominently embossed on the mint.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Polos". h2g2 at the BBC website. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bennett, Oliver (9 August 2004). "Why we love things in mint condition". The Independent. "When US troops were stationed over here during the war, Rowntree started to manufacture Lifesavers for them under licence. When the war drew to a close, the licence was withdrawn. So in 1947, Rowntree came up with its own brand of holey mint, the mighty Polo" 
  3. Rowntree History{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[dead link]
  4. "Meet the rest of our products". Rowntree's. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015. 
  5. Ward, David (27 July 2004). "A legal case with a hole in the middle". The Guardian.,3604,1269803,00.html. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015. 

External links