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The origin of breath mints


The origin of breath mints
Though they were responsible for a number of great inventions and works—including papyrus sheets and the Great Pyramids—dental hygiene evaded the Egyptians. Faced with the odor resulting from bacterial growth and tooth decay, they developed the first breath mints: a mixture of various ingredients, including frankincense and cinnamon, which was then boiled in honey and shaped accordingly.

First mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, a 16th-century-B.C. document, a number of different recipes for kyphi—the Greek transcription of the Egyptian word for their incense—have been found. Used in religious ceremonies as well as for medicinal reasons, the recipes for kyphi normally had a number of things in common, especially wine, honey, and raisins. Unfortunately, a few of them have listed ingredients which we have been unable to correctly identify.

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