Mint - Parts I-IV
American Mint: A Documentary, a four-hour, four-part DVD history of the American peppermint and spearmint industry. Based on over eighty on-site interviews, vintage photographs and rare archival movie film.
Mint - Part I
The discovery of an abandoned mint still near St. Johns, Michigan sparks the preparation of American Mint. See how mint farmers today harvest and still their mint hay, and how Americans use peppermint and spearmint oil to better their lives.
Learn about historic mint bottles and the 19th century American “Peppermint Kings.” See which companies were the leading chewing gum manufacturers. Learn who invented a mint candy shaped like a lifesaver. See how American soldiers created a demand abroad for chewing gum and candy. (62 min.)
Mint - Part II
Mint products were widely advertised. Some companies employed attractive young women to hand out free samples; one company had salesmen make their rounds in cars shaped like a roll of mint-flavored candy.
Learn how one mint grower, during the “Great Price Rise” of the mid-1920's, received a check for $12,000 for a single barrel of peppermint oil.
Learn how verticillium wilt threatened the survival of the American mint industry. See how one company, in the first successful use of irradiation for vegetative propagation, developed wilt resistant peppermint varieties. Note the migratory nature of the mint industry, now centered in the Pacific Northwest. (62 min.)
Mint - Part III
Mint: From Hands to Machines"
Learn about peppermint and spearmint varieties, and watch as “handlers” process mint oil for “end users.”
Witness, through vintage photographs and rare archival movie footage, the dramatic transformation of agricultural practices in the planting, harvesting, and stilling of mint.
Learn how mint roots were once planted by hand and see old movie footage of workers tediously hand removing weeds from the fields. Some growers in the Pacific Northwest even used geese and lambs as “weed eaters.” Mint leaves were originally boiled in water over a large fire.
Learn how mint growers in New York and Michigan developed the first "steam distillery." Watch workers in the 1940's “stomp” mint hay in stilling tubs. Learn who invented the first portable mint stilling tubs and why the old stationary units are now archaic relics. Contrast these older practices with modern mint distilleries. (72 min.)
Mint - Part IV
Mint: A Heritage Worth Recognizing"
Learn about the changing role for women in the mint industry. Be a witness to the pride American mint farmers and “handlers” take in working with an important speciality crop.
Are mint farmers “a special breed” in agriculture? But the American mint farmer is facing new challenges from overproduction and foreign competition! Can the small family mint farm survive in America?
Or will the American mint farmer, as has largely happened with the old mint stills, disappear from the American scene?
Learn about one of the oldest surviving mint stills in the United States, and the effort to save it. This is a heritage worth recognizing! (62 min.)