* Prices may differ from that shown
Another check up at the dentist, and yet another filling at £60-£80 plus. I decided it was time to cut back on my consumption of mints and reduce the risk of further fillings. I needed to find a substitute for the mints, but drew the line at chewing gum, as it always looks a bit tacky and impolite. Besides, I don't think that my employer would be too happy so see me dealing with clients whilst chewing gum. So I had a scout round Boots in my lunch hour, and spotted Listerine Actives (previously known as Pocket Packs). They claim to be sugar free, so I thought I'd give them a whirl.
** WHAT ARE THEY? **
They're made by Pfizer, a huge American conglomerate specialising in health care products. Listerine Actives are micro thin films made from starch. They're impregnated with the antiseptic ingredients you find in Listerine mouthwash such as Thymol, Eucalyptol, Methyl Salicylate and Menthol. Basically they're oral care strips which are designed to kill the bad breath germs that build up in your mouth throughout the day. They really are wafer thin so they melt in your mouth instantly, no chewing required. As they melt they release minty germ killing ingredients. Pfizer claim that they will kill 99.9% of odour causing bacteria within 30 seconds.
** PRICE, PACKAGING & AVAILABILITY **
They're sold in all major supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsburys etc;) as well as chemists such as Boots & Supermarkets. They're sold in only two sizes:
24 Dissolvable Strips = 99p
72 Dissolvable Strips = £2.79
The strips are packaged in a turquoise cardboard sleeve. The packaging is emblazoned with the word "New", but as they've been on the market for two years (at least), I'm not sure how they can be claiming this. On the back of the sleeve is a list ingredients and a couple of diagrams showing how to ingest them. How relevent their diagrams are is another matter. Two pictures - the first of a hand pulling a strip from the packet, and the second showing said hand and strip going into one's mouth is hardly necessary - after all it's hardly rocket science.
Inside the sleeve is another piece of cardboard, with the tiny little turquoise dispenser containing the Actives. They're extremely well packaged and it takes a while to break through all the necessary plastic, cardboard, foil wrappings and backings just to get to the Actives. Once you've finished wrestling with all the packaging you're left with a tiny little turquoise plastic carrying case. It's very tiny and discrete - ideal for a jacket pocket or handbag.
Flip the lid on the box and the Actives are stored inside. They have no discernable odour. The strips themselves are postage stamp size. They're a light greeny blue semi transparent colour film. Remove one from the packaging and place it on you tongue. It quickly dissolves and leaves an extremely minty taste in your mouth. Make sure you get it all in your mouth and do not leave half of it on your lip like I did, as it burns and it hurts. They taste really, really strong and they can make your eyes water a bit. They do instantly refresh your mouth and give your teeth, gums and tongue an immediate "just brushed" sensation. The feeling and minty taste lasts for anything up to an hour, which is rather reassuring. However, they do leave a bit of an aftertaste, which can make beverages like tea and coffee taste a wee bit odd at first. They can also leave a thin film of a sticky residue on your gums.
** HEALTH ISSUES **
The strips are alcohol free, sugar free and contain no calories at all. However, the strips contain a source of Phenylalanine Aspartame. Consumption of too much Phenylalanine Aspartame can excite the neurons in the brain, cause brain cells to die and in more extreme cases cause brain tumours. It has also been linked to a range of other health problems from skin rashes to behavioural disorders. Research has shown that emotional and behavioural disorders can all be triggered by too much Phenylalanine Aspartame in some daily diets. Now I'm no medical expect but that sounds fairly scary to me. There is also an extensive list of other complicated sounding ingredients in this product...which all boils down to a rather sobering cocktail of chemicals.
** RECOMMENDATION ? **
They're discrete, quick working and you can use them anytime, anyplace, anywhere. They are extremely minty, instantly refreshing and a lot longer lasting flavour wise than a mint or a piece of chewing gum. And so they should be, as they are twice the price - every individual strip costs over 4p. However, I'm not so sure that excessive consumption of these is all that good for you. There is no guide as to how many you should limit yourself to in any one 24-hour period, and I really am alarmed by the absolute smorgasbord of chemicals this product contains. In retropsect, I think they are perhaps best for very limited usage or emergencies when you cannot get to a toothbrush. I think I'll be sticking to my sugary mints and risk another filling.
Recommended...but in moderation, and really for emergencies only.
** FURTHER INFORMATION **
They should be stored below 25°C or they will melt into a sticky gloopy mess. They have a shelf life of about 1½ years before they hit their best before date.
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
Tel: 023 8062 0500
I used to smoke. I used to smoke a lot. Perhaps this had something to do with my job - I worked in a smoking warehouse in the armpit of London, and I was on the phone most of the day. This is a bad combination.
Smoking has many consequences - many dire, others simply irritating to either myself or those around me. For example, my voice has dropped at least an octave in the last year - I'm certain that could I sing, I'd be a tenor by now. Smoking, especially heavy smoking, also results in ashtray breath. Ashtray breath leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, and a nasty odour for those around me. (I'm soooo glad, re-reading this, that I stopped smoking)
So what I shall I do about it? I don't like extra strong mints - I find them chalky. I think gum chewing is a nasty habit. (Hark at the woman - GUM chewing is nasty - as if smoking isn't!) So what's a gal to do?
Whilst buying my lunch in Asda a while back, I spotted something I'd only seen once before - LISTERINE Cool Mint Actives. Asda were selling these at the cigarette counter (ironic or practical, that) in three packs for £2.68, if I recall. Feeling impulsive, I picked it up, and bought my sandwich, 200 cigarettes and these little 'oral care strips.' "Ah," I thought, "not only will these possibly freshen my breath, but they will also give me op fodder."
So, what did I see before me, sitting innocently on my desk? Well...read on.
Appearance - inner and outer packaging
As I mentioned, I bought a three pack of Listerine Cool Mint Actives. Like (seemingly) everything else these days, they come in a blister pack (oh, I DO hate those) - encased in plastic mounted on a bit of cardboard. The Listerine brand name is in black capitals, flanked on its top by Cool Mint, and below by a yellow "ACTIVES". Ah, so that's what they are. Perhaps, however, the hapless consumer is still none the wiser.
Now we get to the clear plastic window, through which you can see the three little containers of the product.
Below that, you get what I assume is the same text as above. I have to assume, because I cannot speak nor read Greek. Finally, it tells me that the three pack contains 72 'dissolvable strips' (don't you just love marketing speak?!).
Turning the pack over, I find something that REALLY makes me giggle - instructions for use, complete with diagrams. Oh - and the instructions are bilingual too - English and Greek. Much to my relief, it tells me I can 'use Listerine Actives Strips throughout the day as desired'. Guess I won't overdose, then.
These are, apparently, made by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare - does this mean it's a sweet or a medicine? Answers on a postcard. I can also learn, if my eyesight is good, what the expiry date is. So they'll keep a while - though I do wonder - what happens when they go 'off'?
The main colour is that kind of turquoise green-blue.
Oooh, these are tiny. Shorter than my thumb in length (and I have very little hands), and maybe half that in width, these would be very easy to lose in a pocket or bag. They are a translucent greenish plastic 'vial'.
On the back, we are told how to store these (in a lead sealed protective germ free atmosphere. I jest). You're supposed to keep them between 15° and 25°C, and keep them dry. The dry bit I get (they'd melt if they were wet - after all, that's what happens when you eat them), but I don't know what terrible events would befall if they were too hot or too cold. The last piece of reasonably important information contained is that the product contains phenylalanine - there is a medical condition that makes suffers sensitive to that ingredient. Finally, it repeats all that information in Greek.
Appearance - product
I pop open the lid (usefully arranged so that a wafer can be slid out) and slide out a wafer. Like the vial itself, the wafers are a translucent greenish colour. They are rectangular, perhaps an inch on the long side. They are very thin - they bring new meaning to the term 'wafer thin mint'. And...well...that's what they look like.
Taste and Texture
OK, the moment of truth - the bit you've all waited so patiently for. I pop one into my mouth. The first sensation is that of a slight stickiness - they stick slightly, yet briefly to the roof of my mouth.
The taste hits a second later. These do not taste like extra strong mints; rather, they more resemble minty mouthwash in flavour (not surprising, as Listerine is a brand of mouthwash - and a very popular brand in the States indeed).
That initial stickiness is a bit unpleasant, but the wafer quickly dissolves, leaving just a clean, fresh feeling in the mouth. I do feel as if I've gargled with mouthwash. Furthermore, my mouth now feels moister - again, as if I've just gargled and spit out a capful of mouthwash.
As my boss would have been a wee bit annoyed should I walk up to her and breathe in her face, I will just have to assume for the moment that my breath is indeed fresher. In fact, I can indeed vouch for that, as my daughter keeps nicking them from me, and she has absolutely no qualms about breathing in my face. From the receiving end, as it were, the breath does smell quite minty.
As always, a flavour is very hard to describe. Yes, they are clearly artificially sweetened - but I would expect this in a product that claims that it provides 'oral care' and that it 'kills germs.' It would be slightly counter productive, I feel, if they contained sugar! Sure enough, on the back of the main blister pack, the ingredients do indeed include Aspartame. The product also contains menthol - again, this is quite apparent from the taste. It is the menthol, I suspect, that causes the brief 'burn' - that hot/cold sensation that products that claim to clear your nose generally have. So all in all, yes, it does taste slightly medicinal, but not unpleasantly so - no more so than most mint-flavoured mouthwashes.
It had now been a couple of minutes since I 'ate' (odd term, for something that just dissolves in your mouth, but I can't think of a better one) the wafer. There is a slight aftertaste, no doubt due to the artificial sweetener. The aftertaste is a bit unpleasant, and as soon as I've finished this paragraph, I shall be taking a swig of Coke.
Having said that, though, I've 'eaten' these before when liquid refreshment has not been immediately to hand, and have not noticed the aftertaste quite so strongly. I may be noticing it now because I am looking for it (all in the interests of completeness, you understand).
FINALLY (you all sigh) - Matty's Verdict
Think of these not as a sweet or mint, but rather as a mouthwash or 'oral care strip.' On that basis, they succeed admirably. They do make my mouth feel and taste fresher, and they do make (at least my daughter's mouth) smell fresher to outsiders. Yes, they did cut that cigarette taste from my mouth (usually for about ten minutes tops - because another cigarette was bound to swiftly follow).
They are not as sweet as gum or standard mints. They are not really as pleasurable, as sweets go. But they do seem to be more effective. Even after the swig of Coke, my mouth still feels minty and fresh. Now, I can't vouch for the germ killing properties, as I am not prepared to start taking swabs of my mouth and culturing what's in there, but for the moment, I'm happy to take their word for it.
On the down side, the initial stickiness is disconcerting and somewhat unpleasant, though that doesn't' last long. There is a noticeable aftertaste, which may well put some people off. And boy, they are expensive. Checking out the Asda website, one little vial of 24 of these little beauties will set you back 98p - that's 4p a wafer! Just as well you wouldn't want to eat too many of these in one go.
So, in summary:
Effective at freshening breath
No gum to chew nor mints to suck - instant effectiveness
Small, handy container
Supposedly germ killing
Initial sticky mouth-feel
Strong mouthwash taste
Artificial sweetener aftertaste
So all in all, would I recommend them? Well...yes, providing you are aware what you are buying. These are not a sweet. They are a breath freshener - an 'oral care strip.' They will, to a point, hide your smoky breath. They may even disguise your 'night on the town' breath.
They will not provide the oral satisfaction substitute that many quitting smokers use to replace cigarettes. They are not suitable as sweets for children (because many young children just wouldn't like them).
So...as long as you buy these with your eyes open (and ideally on special offer), yes I would recommend them.
Three stars - I've taken one off for the price, a half off for the sticky mouth-feel, and another half off for the aftertaste.
My breath was fresh - but then I ate a cheese and onion sandwich. Ah well, nothing lasts forever.
These green plastic textured strips resemble Elastoplast (without the white plastic tabs on the back.) At 99p a pack it would be much cheaper to buy ordinary fresh mint chewing gum if you just want to freshen up your mouth. However, if your problem is more pressing and your breath reeks of garlic, tobacco, onions, or any other unsavoury (or, indeed, savoury) odour, read on. These tabs freshen the bits that ordinary chewing gum just can’t reach. The manufacturers even promise that chewing just one strip will kill 99.9% of germs in just 30 seconds. Hmm, faster and more effective than Domestos. It's also almost sterile! Maybe I should start using them in the loo. The pack itself is really over done. There’s a cardboard sleeve with a plastic see through window. When you remove the sleeve there is more plastic and cardboard packaging which requires some effort to remove before you can actually get at the product. This makes the product look more expensive and probably more like a medicine. It’s a clever ruse to make the prospective buyer see the product as better value for money. It looks fancy, so it costs more is the logic behind this. Once you manage to get inside the wrappings there’s a green plastic container which holds the green plastic gummy strips that you place in your mouth. These green things feel slimy and a bit sticky on your tongue but they soon dissolve. I must admit that I find the idea of swallowing mouthwash instead of spitting it out a bit distasteful. (No pun intended!) The flavour is intense and quite hot but it doesn’t last long. It certainly doesn’t taste like chewing gum. It’s more like the mouthwash you get at the dentist. This product works well. It does what it says on the packaging but I don’t think that it feels as good as using a traditional liquid mouthwash. It is i
deal to keep a box in your ha ndbag, or pocket, for emergency use, or if you are travelling. The only problem I found with this product apart from the awful colour, is that it is inclined to cause stomach acidity if it is taken on an empty stomach. If you are prone to that it is wise to be careful not to over use it.
It has been a long time now since I submitted a proper bona fide product review, I' mendin my ways though. I put my new zest for life down to the power of Listerine. For it is that which I am reviewing dear child. Ah yes the review has begun and the time for frivolities is at an end. The inspiration for this review was actually the Wrigley's version, which I have tried before. I wasn’t too fond of it but didn't have enough to say to warrant a review. I would have had to spend whole paragraphs lambasting the packaging. Unfortunately I may have to do that here. The catalyst for my inspiration was a review on the Wrigley’s version, coming as it did immediately after my whim-based purchase of this peculiar product. And so driven by the will of fate, here I sit, and here we are. First up these things are not cheap. If you have five hungry children to support you may very legitimately begrudge parting with a small nugget of gold to achieve fresher breath. Indeed with no such dependants I found the money needed wrenching from my scrawny claw. At 99p you could get a few packs of gum instead, but novelty is a precious commodity and must be paid for. Preferably through the nose. I had seen the adverts, and they were pants, so I forgot them. I forget them even now, so well done marketing team! They claim to be the only variety to actually kill germs, and indeed the Wrigleys version doesn't make any such claim. I was intrigued and I hoped they would be better than the wrigleys version, that were such a non event I didn't bother to review them. As soon as domestos pocket paks come out, I'll be there in a shot though, 'Kills all known germs, dead!' I had low expectations of these strips, but I felt duty bound to earn my continued membership of this fine community. In short, I did it for you. I bought mine in the little newsagent near work and was delighted to see that the package sports not only
English, but Greek too! The package is enormous in comparison with the product. The outer casing in around the length of a credit card and about one and a half times the height there is a small cut out through which a cellophane encased product peers. This is merely a sleeve and serves only for gratuitous tree slaughter. Removing the sleeve reveals a piece of card the same size as the sleeve with a plastic window. Turning the card reveals a perforated tab. This handily shows visual directions. Following these I tore back the tab to reveal a strip of foil, then tore through the foil with my thumbnail to reach a small plastic container. Snapping this open I was greeted by some matching coloured cellophane. Sorry, the Oral Care Health Strips. I hadn't played pass the parcel alone before, and I don't recommend it. Why so much packaging? I can only assume it is to justify the hefty price tag, and make it appear medicinal, as there is some similarities with some of the more expensive cough lozenges like strepsils. But then I'm cynical. Maybe it really needs all that. Once I finally found the product I had a little look. It's a pale green strip of plastic surely? The plastic container matched the strip so closely that it was hard not to suspect they were made from the same material, which is preposterous clearly. It's glossy on one side and smooth on the other and it has a negligible smell. I popped it on my undersize tongue. Taking care not to let the tongue touch the roof of my mouth for fear of sticking, however I am not very reliable and tongue and palette did meet, although there was a little stickiness it was soon over because the strip dissolved so quickly. So there's no need to hang your tongue out like a displaced Maori warrior. Although there was an intense burst of strong flavour, it was not unbearable although it was hot. The taste was very dental, and not at all like chewing gum. In fact it tastes like mouthwash, lis
terine to be precise, which is not unexpected. This is mouthwash in a strip, and it's very effective. I would definitely recommend that you pay the extra for these over the Wrigley’s version if you're determined to have one. Brushing and gargling are surely preferable though, these are good disaster averters if you know the inside of your mouth is giving off death rays, but maybe you're got gingivitis or halitosis, in which case get ye to a dentistry! So in conclusion thousands of innocent trees have been needlessly slaughtered for the short term cure of oral disease. The Little plastic snap box that you eventually reach would be fine on its own. Maybe a plastic coating for hygiene? I actually quite like these and it's purely because they work. They do exactly what it says on the tin, and I quite like the taste, so there's no need to decant mouthwash into hipflasks any longer, for solid mouthwash is here!
Cool Mint Listerine PocketPaks If you've got breath that can kill cattle at thirty paces, perhaps you should seek the nearest dentist rather than any temporary solution on offer here... I first bumped into this product it was being heartily endorsed by an alcoholic that wished to remain incognito, the curious minty sweet aroma that didst eminate from their orifice was sufficient to trigger my suspicions. When I queried this, said individual proferred me one to try claiming it was the sole reason... Eyeballing the cellophane looking tab suspiciously, I tried it... "1. First remove one Oral Care Strip from the convenient carrying case. (No, you don't say?) 2. Then place the Oral Care Strip on your tongue and let it dissolve. Use one Oral Care Strip as needed." ~it says The plasticky thing dissolves almost instantly, forming, in cahoots with your saliva, a mini gargle. Swallowing the stuff seems a little at odds with one's mouthwash etiquette which requires a good spit afterwards, but oh well. The taste is somewhere between listerine and a whole pack of liquid polo (if such a thing existed). They pack a punch, and one fancies one can hear the germs capitulating instantly. "Discreet, works quickly, and you can use it anytime/anywhere. Kills 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria in 30 seconds! Gives you the clean mouth feeling of Cool Mint Listerine® Antiseptic mouthwash. Sugar-free, alcohol-free, with no calories." ~it says I believe it. I can stop gargling Domestos now. The result definitely fresh breath or at least a minty disguise for an hour or two. I think the best effect is the instant wake-up buzz produced and heartily recommend them to jaded travellers, or those with Friday afternoon office lethargy as a pick-me-up refresher. The case measures 1 3/4 inches by 1 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch thick. I'm resolut
ely un-metric I'm afraid. "Cool Mint Listerine PocketPaks™ Strips is a micro-thin starch-based film impregnated with Listerine's ingredients (Thymol, Eucalyptol, Methyl Salicylate, Methol) to kill germs for a clean mouth feeling." ~it says The FULL list of ingredients: Pullulan, Flavors, Menthol, Aspartame, Potassium Acesulfame, Copper Gluconate, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan, Glyceryl Oleate, Eucalyptol, Methyl Salicylate, Thymol, Locust Bean Gum, Propylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, FD&C Green No 3. I'm vaguely worried if my intestines will begin stiffening up like me shirt collars with the starch content, but have noticed no ill effect yet. The strips can be a bit rough on an empty stomach. I'm sure future scientific studies will find that these cause nostril cancer in rats or some such. Until then I shall carry on tabbing. Having tried these on the office staff, several of whom were repelled by the sensation, you have been warned. Note to alcoholics ~ these draw attention to your indulgence, not the reverse. Newsflash --------- Apparently, an ever inventive dubious segment of the population has discovered that these tabs are a mighty fine way to dispense Acid...so you might want to be careful accepting a mouthwash tab from a stranger! Failing that, have a good trip, man.