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Jewish World Review March 30, 2001 / 6 Nissan, 5761

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

Curiously strong -- AS we sat in our den in front of the shrine to entertainment (also known as the television set) last week waiting for the Academy Awards telecast to begin, he were tuned in to one of the many pre-award show shows which featured intelligent in-depth interviews with the celebrities (“How do you feel?’’ “Are you excited?” “Who did your hair?”) as they walked up the red carpet and into the auditorium.

Of course, this pre-show has nothing at all to do with interviewing stars, it’s really a chance for all the women at home to see what the women celebrities are wearing to the Oscars. Which is fine and exactly the reason my wife watches it.

Now, I don’t know which station we were on, but this particular pre-award interview show featured two interviewers -- a man and a woman -- both of whom were unusually obnoxious even by pre-award show standards. But get this, in front of them they had a table stacked with little tins of Altoids mints which they were giving out to the stars who stopped by to speak with them. What is that all about? A little “thank you” gift? Or a little friendly reminder that their breath might stink?

There’s no question that these interviewers would never have handed out Life Savers or Certs -- that would be uncouth. But, ALTOIDS is acceptable. It is the IN mint. The lozenge of choice with the beautiful people. Altoids is made in England and has been quietly around here and there in the States for a long time. It has only been in the past few years, however, that these things have soared in popularity.

They advertise themselves to be very strong, and they certainly are -- as a matter of fact, they state right above their name on the lid of the tin, “The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong PEPPERMINTS.” But how much do we really know about these mints? For example, just what the heck does Altoids mean? Seems to me it has something to do with the tonsils. When you need to have your tonsils taken out, isn’t it because your altoids are red and swollen? Or are altoids something that only boys and men have? I don’t know, I could be wrong, but it’s something like that.

Actually, it might interest you to know that I’ve done some checking and I’ve discovered that “Altoids” is derived from the ancient Greek word, “Altoidicus” which itself is derived from Latin origin, “Altoidus” or “Eltoidum” which literary means “poo-poo caa-caa” breath. The Saxons seized the word in the fifth century and erroneously took it to mean, “beautiful scent of spring flowers.” Much later the English Anglicized it into the now familiar “Altoids,” meaning, “the beautiful scented breath of the beautiful people.” And now we all use it because we all want to be one of the beautiful people. The end.

Of course the entire last paragraph was a complete lie. For the true derivation of the popular British peppermint, you need only open the tin itself and read the paper insert which covers the lozenges inside. On that little paper you will learn everything you need to know concerning the history of this particular mint.

You will learn that the original formula for the mint was developed by a company called Smith & Co. at the turn of the 19th century. You will learn that Smith & Co. was established in 1780 during the reign of King George III. You will learn that Smith & Co. later became a part of Callard & Bowser, a prestigious English confectioner founded in 1837. You will learn everything about the mint ... everything that is except what the word “Altoids” means.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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03/16/01: Acting Politically Correct
03/09/01: Get Off The Phone!
03/02/01: A Brief Statement by Al Gore (A Fantasy Which Will Never Happen)
02/23/01: President Bush Q & A Exclusive
02/13/01: Pregnant and in your face
02/05/01: Let 'em know
01/30/01: One Final Trashing
01/26/01: Don't look in the mirror
01/19/01: He Got It His Way
01/12/01: Be cool ... be very cool
01/05/01: What’s Next?
12/29/00: "Hi, I'm Megan And I'll Be Your Dealer This Evening."
12/23/00: A nice old-fashioned winter
12/15/00: A holiday carol for the Fat Lady
12/08/00: Vice president Queeg
12/01/00: Here we come a-caroling
11/23/00: Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
11/17/00: Gore’s Desperation
11/10/00: It Ain't Over
11/03/00: Read this before you vote
10/27/00: Democratic Big Guns Shoot Blanks
10/20/00: Generation Duh
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08/25/00: Building a Bridge to the Sixties
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08/18/00: Sour Grapes
08/11/00: But he’s Jewish!
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07/27/00: Trick or Treat
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06/29/00: My Home Sweet Home
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05/22/00: What's next, The Million Mutt March?
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04/24/00: For The Children?
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04/05/00: Counting the Race Cards
03/30/00: Speed Bumps
03/22/00: The Eyes Have It
03/15/00: Academia and Media --- They’re Just Not Right
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03/02/00: Actors And Other Animals
02/23/00: Campaign 2000 --- Wake Me When Its Over
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01/31/00: Ask Mr. Politically Correct Man
01/25/00: I’d Like To Thank All The Little People
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10/22/99: Too Late for Dinner
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10/05/99: A Message From Your Journalistic Human Interest Commentator
09/24/99: The Getting Away With It Decade
09/17/99: The Scoop of the Century
09/09/99: Important Millennium Advisory
09/03/99: Ask Mr. Politically Correct Man
08/26/99: Broadcasters, Please mind Your Manners
08/19/99: The Golden Age of Jerkdom
08/12/99: Dressing Down...and Out

© 2000, Greg Crosby