Harley Hay: Nifty mint tins have many uses

I picked them up at London Drugs on a whim.

You know, standing in the lineup where stores put all the items that you sometimes purchase on a whim.

I call it “whim stuff,” but I think marketers call them “impulse triggers.” Things you didn’t know you wanted until you see them there, calling out to you: “Buy me! Buy me!”

“I guess I could use some Juicy Fruit,” you say to yourself, and reach for the bright yellow gum package. You grab a couple and notice that the person in front of you is paying.

“Oh, look! A new National Enquirer – aliens have landed in Florida again!”

And by the time it’s your turn at the till, your basket is suddenly overflowing. And all you came in for was a prescription refill and some outrageously expensive printer ink.

I liked the tin box, and even though I wasn’t craving a mint at the time, I decided I would probably want a mint sometime in the near future, so I picked up a small can of Altoids.

I’d never had an Altoid before, and at first glance, there on the shelf, I immediately associated the name with an ointment.

That’s an unfortunate name for a mint, I thought, but then, the little rectangular tin sold me.

Also, I really liked the slogan printed right under the name: “Altoids – Curiously Strong Mints,” so of course I absolutely had to have them.

And when I got to my car and popped the lid, I was even more charmed. The little white bonbons were nestled within a nest of thin folded paper, which I figured was either an eccentric packaging idea from the past or a super cool new trend.

I popped one of the small, pill-shaped, sort of crumbly mints in the old gub and, yes, a nice blast of peppermint, all right.

Just what I needed, I said to myself. And then I discovered, serendipitously, that the tin fit perfectly in a space in my car, right beside my coin wallet and the hand sanitizer.

And as soon as I run out of Altoids, I waste no time replacing it with a fresh tin. The car just wouldn’t run right, and my day just wouldn’t go right, without that red and white tin box in its proper place.

And later, still curious about the “curiously strong mints,” I looked them up on the internet and found out a couple of fascinating things that would, as the British say, “tickle the fancy” of any curious person.

Tickle 1: Altoids were created in London in the 1780s. (Wow! And they are still fresh! Har har…).

Tickle 2: The name is derived from the Latin “alt” (to change) and the Greek “oids” (taking the form of) which makes no sense at all and clearly shows nobody in England spoke Greek or Latin.

Tickle 3: The tins they come in are as popular as the mints themselves. For years – nay, centuries – the rectangular metal tins that fit nicely in the palm of your hand have been used to store everything from paper clips to postage stamps (remember letters in the mail?) to tiny little pet rocks (remember Pet Rocks?).

I personally keep my favourite guitar picks in an Altoids tin.

In fact, there’s even a popular website called “21 Manly Ways to Reuse an Altoids Tin.”

My favourites are Morse Code Oscillator, Pinhole Camera and Mini Flashlight.

Oh, and if you’re the handy type, there’s also “200 Crafts With Altoids Tins,” including a tiny doll house, a wee music box or a mini Tic Tac Toe set. Just in time for Christmas!

Curiously Strong Mints, indeed.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

Just Posted

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan addressed the Rotary Club Red Deer East at Pidherney Curling Centre on Tuesday.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Shiree Appleman
Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Innisfail RCMP is asking the public to help locate a woman who… Continue reading

Rotary Club of Red Deer logo.
Red Deer Rotary Club hosting tree planting event later this month

The Rotary Club of Red Deer will host a tree-planting event later… Continue reading

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Family doctors say they can answer vaccine questions, after Trudeau recommends them

Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions… Continue reading

The Olympic rings float in the water at sunset in the Odaiba section of Tokyo, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. A new Leger poll suggests Canadians are divided over plans to send athletes from Canada to the upcoming Olympic games in Tokyo as Japan grapples with climbing COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Canadians divided on sending Team Canada athletes to the Tokyo Olympic Games: poll

OTTAWA — A new poll by Leger and the Association of Canadian… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Insert your name here

Back in the Paleolithic Era when a McDonald’s cheeseburger was 29 cents… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Job search: Write a request that will get accepted

Last Thursday, when I logged into LinkedIn, I had nine connection requests… Continue reading

T-shirt with vaccine shot. (Contributed photo)
Letter: Hand out T-shirts with vaccine shots

I made myself a graphic T-shirt recently after getting my vaccine shot.… Continue reading

Most Read