on ones uppers

Polo (sweet)

Polo is a brand of different flavour sweets, which have a hole in the centre. The peppermint flavoured polo was first manufactured in the United Kingdom in 1948. The name ‘Polo’ is reportedly from the word ‘Polar’ and is to symbolize the cool and fresh feeling one gets from sucking a Polo.


Polo mints were introduced by Rowntree in 1948, and Polo fruits followed soon after.

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

Different Polos

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 flopped. However, none have been as successful as the Original Polo mint.

  • Spearmint: These Polos have a strong spearmint flavour and aroma. The original design of the sweets had turquoise flecks on them, however now they are simply clear white to reduce E numbers.
  • Fruit: These Polos are fruit flavored and come in several flavours, all in one tube. These Polos are not mints but boiled fruits. Flavours included are strawberry, blackberry, orange, lemon, and lime.
  • Polo Gummies: Fruit-flavoured soft gummy sweets in the polo shape.
  • Sugar free: This is the sugar free version of the Original Polo containing sorbitol
  • Polo Holes: Nestlé experimented with this variation for a while. It was the original Polo flavour in the shape of the hole from the middle of the sweet.
  • Mini Strong Polos: These were tiny Polos (about 1 cm in diameter) with a strong minty flavour. They were packaged in a box shaped like a Polo Mint. They were also available in a not so successful orange flavour which is no longer available
  • Smoothies: These creamy sweets came in flavours such as blackcurrant, sunshine fruits and strawberry.
  • Citrus: Lemon flavoured Polos
  • Butter Mint Polos: These were butter mint flavoured
  • Ice: These flavour Polos came in a shiny blue wrapper, and had a cooler mint taste.
  • Cinnamon flavoured Polos
  • Paan flavoured Polos (Previously available in India)
  • Mint O Fruit: (available in Indonesia). These come in the following flavours: Raspberry Mint, Blackcurrant Mint, Peppermint, Lime Mint and Cherry Mint. These polos come with the following slogan "Think Plong! Masih Ada Bolong!" These are also sold in the UK in some Poundland stores.

Prior to this Rowntree had already experimented with different polos in the 1980s. The boiled fruit ones were always available but they briefly made:

  • Lemon: Similar to the citrus flavour that Nestlé put out around 10 years later, but not identical.
  • Orange: Similar to the lemon, but in an orange packet.

The mint

A Polo is approximately 1.9cm in diameter, 0.4cm deep and has a 0.8cm 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.

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

Packing and look

Polos are found in all major and minor newsagents, sweet shops, and supermarkets. They are usually sold separately in tubes that are about 10cm tall containing 25 Polos, but can be found in multi-packs ranging from 3 to 8. The tube of Polos is tightly wrapped with silver foil backed plastic. A green and blue paper wrapper, with the word ‘POLO’, binds the foil wrapper. The Os in ‘Polo’ are the images of the sweet. For the spearmint flavour, the paper wrapper is a darker green also the Extra Strong flavour is in a black paper wrapper.

Trademark woes

In 1994 when the new Trade Marks Act 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 Food, the current 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 compressed confectionery’.

Kraft Foods and Swizzels Matlow (owner of British Navy Sweets) have made similar applications for annular sweets bearing the mark LIFESAVERS or NAVY. Nestle has tried to oppose these trademark applications but have 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.

Marketing slogans/formula

  • "Polo, the mint with the hole"
  • "The Mint,The Hole Mint and Nothing But The Mint!"
  • "Holy Moly Minty!"
  • "Life's a Hole Lot Cooler!"
  • "People Like Polo!"

Media & Entertainment

  • Polo mints are mentioned in the song "Low Budget" by The Kinks. "We're all on our uppers were all going skint I used to smoke cigars but now I suck polo mints".
  • The Polo mints are an important visual theme throughout the BBC Three comedy television programme The Mighty Boosh. They can be seen on many of the costumes and props (as well as in the opening graphics), and are directly referenced to on several occasions, most notably during the Hitcher's song ("creeping in your room in the dead of night / with my solo Polo vision" - the character of the Hitcher has a big Polo over one of his eyes.).
  • A recent advertisement claims that Polos are now 13.063% mintier.
  • Polo mint has become rhyming slang for skint(a slang term meaning to have no money) and for bint(slang for "woman").

See also

Other UK Sweets/mints/Candy

External links


Polo Gallery

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