Minty, buttery, and oddly subject to the notion that – like Werther's Originals, to which they're a sort of minty analogue – they're only enjoyed by your grandparents. Mention the name to anyone over a certain age, and you might be lucky enough to be witness to a curiously uniform phenomenon: a decent portion will chorus (to varying degrees of tunefulness) Murray mints! Murray mints! Too-good-to-hurry mints! Believe it or not, Murray mints were the first product to get their own television advertising jingle.

It's 1955, and commercial television is a brand-new idea: this is the year Snap, Crackle and Pop — with the PG Tips chimpanzees and Don't forget the Fruit Gums, Mum! following a year later — made their way onto a nation's TV screens. The advert, which you can see for yourself in glorious RealMedia here, features animated bearskinned soldiers marching along to the tune of the infectious jingle, followed by an announcer jovially imploring you to "Treat yourself to Murray mints: the too-good-to-hurry mints!", and a chirpy brass-band fanfare. The jingle was recorded by Cliff Adams and the Stargazers, who allegedly re-enacted the advert one night on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, finishing their performance, in true pantomime fashion, by throwing Murray mints to the audience.

The mints themselves sprang onto the UK confectionery market in 1944. The identity of their original manufacturer is somewhat shrouded in a mist of company acquisition after company acquisition; they're now owned and distributed by Birmingham-based confectionery giants Cadbury Trebor Bassett, and known specifically as "Bassett's Murray Mints", with a note on the back of a typical packet kindly informing us that "This product was previously known as Trebor Murray Mints". Cadbury's own website proclaims that they (presumably as Trebor Bassett, or even Trebor) acquired a company called Pascall Murray in 1965 — Pascall as in Pascall's Fruit Bonbons, and Murray as in – you guessed it – Murray mints. Murray himself is a bit of a mysterious character: no amount of company literature has yet thrown up anything on who he actually was, or how he came to manufacture his mints. Or whether he was actually a woman.

If you've never tried them, I highly recommend hunting down a packet or two at the next sensible opportunity. Depending on your particular variety of local conveniences, you can buy a quarter, individually-wrapped, from a jar in the post office, a roll of about a dozen from wherever you generally find chewing gum and Polo mints, or a healthy 200g bag, again full of individually-wrapped mints, which you'll find lurking among the likes of the Liquorice Allsorts. (Incidentally, there's something of a scandal involving these bags, as until quite recently you'd pay the same price for an 8oz bag — i.e., 227g. But that's another story.)

For the insatiably curious: each and every Murray mint contains glucose syrup, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable fat, molasses, salt, soya lecithin, and that old favourite, "flavourings".


Sources:
http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/tv/adverts/commercials.htm
http://www.cadbury.co.uk/CTB/AboutCadbury/HistoryandStoryofCadbury/
http://users.aol.com/footrule/metrical.htm
http://www.triz-journal.com/archives/2002/10/g/
and the back of a 200g packet of the things. All in the name of research.

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