Fact Check


Can Altoids mints enhance your sexual experience?

Published Aug 19, 1999

Claim:   Chomping a few Altoids just before providing oral sex elevates the recipient's experience to the "out of this world" category.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 1997]

This is absolutely a true story — forward it around to friends who might get a kick out of it. Had the most interesting conversation with the top sales weasel at our company today. She came into my office and noticed I had a box of Altoids on my desk. (Have you had them? They are these obnoxiously strong peppermints made in England.) As soon as she saw them, she burst into laughter. Turns out she had recently had an affair with a guy who called her and left her an incredibly steamy voice mail message after an encounter. He went on and on about what a blow job goddess she was, how amazing she was, how he'd never be the same, etc. She was kind of puzzled, thinking: what did I do to this guy that was so different from my regular technique? She finally figured it out: she's a smoker, and before getting intimate with him, she had gone to the bathroom to "freshen up." Not having a toothbrush, she crunched on about four Altoids and then got busy. Apparently things went amazingly.

So she passed this little tidbit on to another female sales weasel, who immediately tried it out on her fiancee. Apparently this guy has never, ever been into oral sex, but liked the mint sensation so much that he asked her to stop and chew another Altoid mid-blow job. He is now a fellatio gourmand. This news has been going around our office. Having a box of Altoids on your desk is now like being part of the Secret Blowjob Goddess Society. It's the equivalent of having the hottest car or coolest computer. News spread like crazy among the females, who all went out at lunch to Walgreens to buy a box of Altoids (about $2 for 100 or so), and their partners across the city tonight are getting one hell of a corporate blow job. As far as company-wide morale boosting events, it doesn't get much better. Some of the men found out, too — they went out after work to buy them for their wives. They strategized on how to get their wives to eat them. And people wonder why I work in technology.

(For what it's worth — it really does work! It leaves a lasting tingle that is apparently quite exquisite.)

Origins:   I'm

afraid it's going to take more than a box of Altoids to radically change anyone's sex life. Aspiring blowjob goddesses, take note.

First appearing on the Internet in early December 1997, this bit of imaginative prose captures imaginations as it promises an easy path to sexual ecstasy, something everyone is apparently looking for. The letter works on yet another level by supposedly letting those who receive it in on a big secret, thereby exploiting the normal human desire to be privy to "special information." Very powerful lures, both of these.

We want to believe — or at least kid about — our places of business being seething hotbeds of sexual adventure. The notion of a "Secret Blowjob Goddess Society" plays into that desire. But we're still uncomfortable with the notion of people we know having sex, so laughing about it over a box of mints discovered on someone's desk becomes a way of coming to terms with our feelings of unease, in much the same way as whistling in the graveyard makes us feel a bit more


Typical of such netlore, there's a dearth of checkable facts to work with. No names, dates, or names of companies are given, making it impossible to trace the story back to its source. Even so, it will long be passed around as a true story, a bit of super secret information only we really cool people know about. The trailing "For what it's worth — it really does work!" is the expected netlore flourish, that little tagline ever-so-casually tossed in to convince the reader that not only did this really happen, but someone removed from the original story checked it out and is now vetting it. (Hey, if you can't trust unsigned and untraceable bit of netlore, what can you place your faith in?)

Accept the story for what it likely is, a lovely bit of fiction. Also buy stock in Altoids for you know there will be those who are going to feel the urge to test out this enhancement for themselves.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support the claim that mint in the mouth of the fellator would be felt on the penis of the receiver, some people have sworn they feel a little something when they try this with their partners. But don't get your hopes up: even among those who claim Altoids produces a sensation when used in this fashion, nothing earthshaking is being reported. Slight tingling or a momentary sensation of cold; that's it.

Judging from my e-mail, those who embark on this voyage of self discovery from the position of believing Altoids will set their sex lives on fire generally report sensing something a bit different or tingly about the Altoid-enhanced experience whereas those who don't start out from that position don't seem to pick up on anything more unusual than one partner having fresher breath this time around. I'm inclined to believe the phenomenon is largely one of the mind, not the body, and is akin to people swearing they hear improved sound from green-rimmed CDs despite conclusive evidence that there is no difference to be heard. On the other hand, similar rumors about enhanced oral sex circulated in the past about Binaca (a breath spray) and Close Up (a brand of toothpaste).

If you're set on believing this will do something for you, it probably will. But not to the point of being declared Blowjob Goddess of the Western World — even those who swear they feel some effect don't report anything all that remarkable.

Okay, so why does this bit of e-mailed pop wisdom find receptive audiences wherever it travels? Any bit of silliness about how to magically transform sex into something out of this world is always going to go over big; that's a given. We want to believe that if we but knew the secret, eternal joy would be ours. It's the same brand of madness that has us looking for a magic weight loss pill even though we quite logically know no such thing exists and that it's still a matter of the long way around: diet and exercise. We want shortcuts. Wanting them makes us believe they must exist somewhere.

In 1986 the popular television show LA Law ran smack into this refusal to believe such a shortcut did not exist. In a key episode, troll-like Stuart Markowitz won the beautiful Ann Kelsey's heart (and other assorted body parts) with the Venus Butterfly, a sexual secret a con whispered to him by way of repaying a favor. Here's where the line between television and reality blurred — fans refused to believe the Venus Butterfly was nothing but a made-up bit of storyline. Many "remembered" hearing about it before (which was impossible as the term was coined for this one episode; it didn't exist prior to that) but most likely confused hearing about the technique on the show with hearing about it from sources outside the show. It didn't matter though — they were convinced the Venus Butterfly was real. NBC and the show's producers were inundated with requests for the details of this super-secret fantastic sexual technique or position. Having already convinced themselves this information existed, callers weren't happy about being asked to take "There is no such thing" as an answer.

Barbara "speared mint" Mikkelson

Last updated:   25 February 2006


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