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Sen Sen Candy – The Original Breath Freshener

A single pack of Sen Sen candy

Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Jim Edwards

From TicTacs, Clerks, and Altoids to Mentos, Clorets and Velamints, there are many breath fresheners available in the market in multiple different flavors. However, nothing beats Sen Sen Candy, the infamous candy-like breath freshener to date.

While Gen-Z may not be aware of this product since it has been discontinued, true millennials know that Sen Sen was the original candy breath freshener. It was the first product designed keeping in mind the goal to provide a refreshing, close-up friendly perfumed breath.

Back when dental hygiene wasn’t a common practice, people relied heavily on these powerful breath fresheners to keep their mouths smelling good. Sen-Sen was especially common among men who were avid drinkers or cigarette smokers and wanted to mask their bad breath.



In the early 19th century, when tooth brushing wasn’t a common practice, the concept of a breath freshener was entirely foreign. Sen-Sen candy, when introduced, was initially marketed as a ‘breath perfume.’ The product was developed by T.B. Dunn and Co., renowned perfume dealers in Rochester, New York, shortly during the late 19th century and was sold all the way up until July 2013. According to most sources, a plant superintendent named Kerschner designed the super-secret formula for a sweet and refreshing yet potent breath perfume.

Aligning with its perfumery roots, Sen-Sen remained on the market lists as a cosmetic for many years. In 1977, the Warner-Lambert Company sold Sen-Sen and Smith Brothers to F&F Laboratories Inc. – Chicago’s only cough drop manufacturers.

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They purchased both the secret formula and the authentic machinery that was used in operation, as reported by David Barrett, marketing manager at F&F. He also stated that all ingredients for Sen-Sen’s special recipe are imported from Bulgaria, Italy, France, Turkey, Greece and some inaccessible regions of Asia.

For most of its production years, the candy was manufactured by F&F foods with the original recipe, using the same process, equipment, and packaging system. Unlike most candies that evolve over their lifetime, Sen-Sen candy was pretty much the same when pulled off shelves.

Sen-Sen was known for its unique matchbox-like appearance. The candy came in small cardboard boxes, where the box’s interior would slide out of the larger box; there was a tiny hole at the corner through which the candy would come out when the package was shaken.

The box’s design was quite sleek with hints of red, gold, and black; it didn’t look like candy and was never advertised as one either. The aesthetic and overtones of the packaging were quite masculine as the candy was initially targeted at men who wanted to hide their bad breath from their ‘lady friends.’

A box of Sen Sen Candy

What Does Sen-Sen Candy Taste Like?

As mentioned earlier, the recipe of this candy was very close to the manufacturer’s heart and understandably so. When Sen-Sen was introduced in the 19th century, its ingredients included licorice, anise, gum Arabic, maltodextrin, sugar, and other natural and artificial flavors.

These ingredients may seem mundane now, but back then, they were connected with the East and associated with this faraway place’s exotic and sensual nature.

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The taste was very similar to a licorice product called Virgoind that was made around the same time by Ernest Jackson and Company. The only difference was that Sen Sen combined the aspects of both a breath freshener and a candy leaning more toward the sweeter side.

Although sweet, this wasn’t a product that one could blindly pop in their mouth or binge on. Its taste and smell are highly robust and powerful, so much so that people would start feeling nauseous if they had more than 2-3 pieces at a time. When the manufacturers called it a ‘breath perfume,’ they weren’t joking; anyone who indulged in this candy was shocked by the strength of its scent.

Sen-Sen’s aggressive and powerful taste meant that while some people really liked the product, others despised it. Most users even reported that the candy tastes less like licorice and more like soap. Indeed, the demise of Sen-Sen Candy was evident long before it happened.

How was Sen-Sen Candy made?

The candy was made in giant vat0like mixers, where the original product was thoroughly mixed and then sent to the extruder. To make the characteristic hard and shiny sheets of Sen-Sen candy, the mixture was heated for over 10 hours.

The sheets were then scored and cut up into precise squares, giving Sn Sen the appearance of tiny coal lumps. From the day of its inception to the day it went off the market; the same process was used to make these breath fresheners.

A Final Goodbye // TheCandyGuy

For a fun review of Sen-Sen Candy, you can check out the link below

Sen-Sen Candy – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you still buy Sen-Sen Candy?

No, as of 2013, Sen Sen has been discontinued.

Is Sen-Sen Candy Gluten-Free?

Yes, Sen-Sen Candy is caffeine-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, dairy-free, gelatine-free, and fat-free.

How many calories does Sen-Sen Candy have?

One serving of Sen-Sen Candy has zero calories.

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Image Credits

16 Sen-Sen Confection Sucrerie – first commercial breath freshener” by jasonlam is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

sen-sen” by MBK (Marjie) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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