The curiously strange packaging
October 6, 2006 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Why do altoids have that wax paper inside the tin? Is there any practical reason for it?
posted by jclovebrew to Food & Drink (24 answers total)
Maybe so they don't crash around and crack when they hit the tin?
posted by rottytooth at 3:19 PM on October 6, 2006

I'm almost certain it's to both avoid excessive cracking/breakage of the altoids, as well as keeping the mints from being too noisy in the tin.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:25 PM on October 6, 2006

regulation. they are required to put a food-safe paper into the tin.

(I worked on an altoids campaign once and asked)
posted by krautland at 3:34 PM on October 6, 2006

So, uh, why is there a regulation requiring that Altoids have that wax paper inside the tin? Is there any practical reason for it?
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:36 PM on October 6, 2006

Makes no sense krautland.

Eclipse mints have no such wax paper or anything else in their tin.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:36 PM on October 6, 2006

Why would they be required to put it in so that it only touches/shields on side of the mints?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2006

*one* side
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2006

well, I just worked on a tea escapes launch for wrigleys. they used tin cans as well and told us in no uncertain terms they were required to separate tin from candy with food-safe paper. top and bottom, actually.

they hated that themselves (because it increased cost by a fraction of a cent) but there was nothing they could do ...
posted by krautland at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2006

i thought it was to lend an air of old-skool charm. like a left over tradition from the old days.
it also keeps them from falling out.
posted by amethysts at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2006

I think it's mostly to keep it from making too much noise. Sometimes I take out the paper and regret it later, cause they rattle all over the place.
posted by rossination at 3:56 PM on October 6, 2006

Wrigley's puts out Eclipse. Either someone is yankin' your chain or doesn't know their bum from a hole in the ground.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:56 PM on October 6, 2006

Between krautland and LobsterMitten, it sounds like Altoids is complying with the letter of the regulations but not the spirit. They put in a paper liner that covers top and bottom, but not the sides of the tin - full coverage would require a more complex liner and the regs only require top & bottom coverage. This keeps their costs down to the bare minimum that will satisfy the authorities. Just my guess...
posted by Quietgal at 4:00 PM on October 6, 2006

Re: some tinned mints having paper and others not. Maybe the tins are made of different materials, and the paper is only required for certain materials?
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:09 PM on October 6, 2006

Altoids are sold in many countries. Perhaps the regulation only applies in one of the main countries, and they decided to standardize their production? Now everyone gets to rejoice in the small piece of paper.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:27 PM on October 6, 2006

In a high humidity environment, high sugar candies absorb water and melt somewhat.

Maybe the paper is to keep the melt from leaching ions from the metal.

But then again one reason for a metal tin is to keep out humidity.

Sounds like a bunch of conflicting goals and regulations.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:18 PM on October 6, 2006

It might be on here somewhere ...

I imagine if it touched the metal then they would have to do more safety tests for allergies and such, but again - just a guess. Perhaps here is something relevant -

"A subset of the "no migration" exclusion is the functional barrier doctrine. This concept dictates that if a substance is not part of the food-contact surface of a package and is separated from the food by a barrier that prevents migration of the substance to food, then the substance may not be expected to become a component of food and, thus, is not a food additive within the meaning of the FD Act. Whether a true functional barrier exists may be determined simply by considering the package structure and the exposure conditions anticipated for the package or, in more complex applications, by conducting calculations or migration testing. This approach is often useful in determining the regulatory status of interior layers of laminates, outer layers of packages, and external printing inks."
posted by milovoo at 5:41 PM on October 6, 2006

My Altoids Mango Sours (so delicious! buy some today!) have a piece of crinkly paper at the bottom, but nothing on top. I wouldn't describe it as wax paper, because it has little dimples (sort of like golf ball dimples). Do other Altoids have different paper?
posted by I Am Not a Lobster at 5:43 PM on October 6, 2006

rottytooth and MonkeySaltedNuts are nailing this one. 1. So they don't get all crunchy and 2. To they don't all moisty.

The interesting thing here is that the paper for altoids is just like the cotton for aspirin. It keeps the tablets from breaking apart during shipment, but not after you start emptying the tin or bottle.
posted by snsranch at 5:53 PM on October 6, 2006

The tin may also be somewhat reactive, hence the need for the barrier to keep the mints from picking up a metallic flavor.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:21 PM on October 6, 2006

There is probably no such law about food-safe paper liners in France, because another brand of hard candy, La Vosgienne, uses metal tins with no paper. These fruit drops come in cherry, lemon, raspberry, mixed, and so on. The tins rattle something fierce, especially after you have had a few and they are no longer closely packed.

I think that Altoids uses the paper to prevent rattling and to provide some more ad copy (the certificate of authenticity, ingredients, etc.)
posted by bad grammar at 8:20 PM on October 6, 2006

Miniature cigars in a metal tin have the same piece of paper, for many of the same reasons.
posted by fvox13 at 11:26 PM on October 6, 2006

It might also have something with the type of metal used to manufacture these specific tins. If Callard & Bowser is using double reduced 65# BW steel and .10 coating*, the lighter metal may cause more reaction to the base materials in the mints.

*it's been four or five years since I've seen C&B's metal specs for this tin. I have no idea what the current specs actually are.
posted by jaimystery at 4:33 AM on October 7, 2006

All great ideas. I emailed the Altoids site with this question ( with this question. Here is their answer:

Subject: Re: In Response to your Website Comments - Ref # 000194793A
Date: October 09, 2006 9:00:59 AM MDT

Dear Mr. T,

Thank you for visiting!

We put a liner inside the tin of Altoids to prevent the separation of "powder" and mints. It also tells our curiously strong history.

Again, thanks for contacting us, and we hope you'll continue to enjoy our products.


Shirley Hill
Consumer Affairs Representative

PS This is my first post on MF, thought I should stop lurking and start participating.
posted by corwalch at 7:25 PM on October 9, 2006

All great ideas. I emailed the Altoids site with this question ( with this question. Here is their answer:

I do love a new member who takes action. Welcome.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:03 PM on October 9, 2006

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