Aroma cue. Any of several plants of the aromatic genus, Mentha, used in diverse consumer products (e.g., cakes, candies, cookies, and toothpaste).
Usage: Peppermint is used to flavor sweets, candies, and various liquor drinks. Spearmint is often used in cooking. The distinct flavor of peppermint does not blend well with other herbs. Peppermint adds a refreshing taste to fruits, and to certain cooked meats such as lamb.
Evolution. Many plant-odor signals (e.g., pyrazines) evolved as nontoxic warning signs (McGee 1990:311). Ever popular true mints, including sage,rosemary, marjoram, oregano, and thyme, evolved strong odors of camphor, eucalyptol, and limonene (see COCA-COLA) to keep insects at bay.
Anatomy. Menthol (a crystalline alcohol obtained from peppermint oil) tricks heat-sensing organs (thermoreceptors) of the tongue and skin into sending messages to the brain that the sensation tastes and feels "cool" (Feldman 1991:192).
Consumer product. Crest, a toothpaste by Procter & Gamble, was introduced in 1955. The flavor of Regular Crest is primarily wintergreen, while Mint Crest is primarily spearmint. According to web documents published by Procter & Gamble, "Good flavor is important in toothpaste since people will not brush regularly and carefully unless they like the taste." (N.B.: Crest is advertised on network TV and in family magazines. "Our TV schedule is split between daytime and nighttime programs. Daytime programs enable us to reach a sizeable audience of homemakers, while nighttime shows provide broad exposure to an 'all family' audience." See MEDIA.)
Neuro-notes. Mint sends a multimodal message to aromatic (smell), gustatory (taste), and pungency (trigeminal nerve) sensory nerve endings (see TASTE CUE, Trigeminal "taste").