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Do As Tokyo Does Freshen That Breath
(Entered Nov. 25, 2008)
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It's a sad rule of nature that we can't smell, or judge for ourselves how good or bad our own breath is. As you can imagine, this is more of a problem in a country like Japan, where personal space is at a premium, and most people spend their days jam packed against other people.
For example, a day in the life of an average salaryman consists of drinking a few cans of coffee, eating gyoza and yakiniku, smoking a few packs of cigarettes and putting down 3 or 4 beers in the evening. Take this guy and multiply him by a couple hundred, and put the whole group in a small box car of a train. Now imagine all of them shouting in drunken revelry with you in the middle. A made up situation? No, reality.
Fortunately Japanese scientists have been busy trying to solve the breath problem. Let's have a look at what they've come up with so far:

Gum has pretty much used up it's welcome in the bad breath fighting world, most intelligent people nowadays know that it only freshens your breath for a couple of minutes before wearing off. However that doesn't stop gum makers from having thousands of different breath freshening varieties to choose from.

breath acuo gum

This particular brand 'ACUO' made by the candy powerhouse 'Lotte', is nothing special, I just picked it at random. Besides not being an effective breath freshener, gum has one other annoying problem. You eventually have to spit it out. And since Japan has about 3 public garbage cans in the whole country, you end up chewing on this god awful little piece of rubber for hours. On to better things please science!

Name: Acuo
Type: Gum
Flavours: You name it, they probably have it
Initial Reaction: It's minty gum, what else do you need to know?
Effectiveness: Wears off after only minutes


Ora2 is for those people that are too lazy to chew gum, or think the novelty of spraying concentrated gum juice directly into the back of their mouths is cool. It comes in a handy little spray bottle, is available in a variety of flavours, fits easily in your pocket and doubles as pepper spray if you're backed into a dark alley and need to vaporize some thug's eyeballs to escape. Does it freshen breath though?

breath spray ora two

Once you've got this one, it'll probably end up sitting in your bag or purse unused, till the end of time. The only occasion it might come in handy is on a first date just before you go in for that hesitant goodnight kiss. Give yourself two or three quick sprays (incognito of course) to the back of the tongue and try not to inhale at the same time.

Name: Ora2
Type: Breath spray
Flavours: Mint and some fruity flavours
Initial Reaction: Sharp, like flavour syrup mixed with acid
Effectiveness: Wears off after only minutes so get busy!


Breath Care's little gel capsules are the only product in the group that actually go after the root of the problem. Instead of trying to freshen your mouth, they instead try to freshen your stomach, where bad breath would seem to originate. Success?

breath care parsley

Impressive to say the least! I've tested this out by breathing on other people and the results have only been positive. However it still works on the basic principle of trying to overpower bad breath instead of fighting it. Pills are swallowed, the thin gelatin coating breaks down in your stomach, super concentrated parsley/mint liquid smothers any other smell in the vicinity. This is also the only product out there that can make your burps smell like mint, which in itself is deserving of some sort of award. However, they also have the power to dehydrate, as that concentrated extract no doubt needs gallons of water to properly flush out of your body. Careful not to overdose! Take max. two or three pills at a time. Oh and whatever you do, don't bite down on them. You'll regret it.

Name: Breath Care
Type: Swallowable capsules
Flavours: Mint/Parsley and some fruity flavours
Initial Reaction: No initial reaction, give it a few minutes to start working
Effectiveness: Gives you mint/fruit flavoured gas and lasts for hours or until you eat again


The same brand as above, but these ones are chewable. If you get confused between the two, you can refer to these ones by their other name: Breath Refreshing Sugared Gummy Candy.
Not sure why Breath Care released a gummy version that you have to chew, maybe some people didn't like the pill popping, drug using image of the above product?
Anyway what effect, if any?

breath care lemon gummy

If you boiled a thousand gallons of lemon juice until you were left with a thin layer of super concentrated lemon scum on the bottom of the pot, then took that scum and compressed it until it was the size of a little ball like those shown above, you might have some idea what these are like. I ate two and they went off like miniture nuclear bombs in my mouth. I'm still not sure if I'll ever taste anything again. Breath care for suicidal fanatics maybe.

Name: Breath Care
Type: Chewable gummies
Flavours: The usual fruit line up
Initial Reaction: Like getting kicked in the head repeatedly by a 2000 pound lemon on steroids
Effectiveness: Not sure, was too busy wondering if I was going to survive


Well we've got gum, sprays, pills, gummies, I guess we better add suckable candy to the list too just to make sure we leave no stones unturned in the war against bad breath. Coming in a variety of flavours, these tablets have the consistency, taste and smell of Pez candy. How does it measure up?

breath care breo peach

If you're like me and hate Pez, then no doubt you'll hate Breo too. The package says on top 'namete ajiwau shita kirei' which translates to: suck taste tongue clean. Well it definitely sucks, but I'm not sure about the cleaning tongues part. For one thing, this seems to be nothing more than a peach flavoured piece of candy. I tried one after eating some spicy korean food and natto for lunch, but if there are any breath benefits here they must be mostly psycological.

Name: Breo
Type: Pez like tablet
Flavours: Mostly fruity flavours
Initial Reaction: I paid money for this?
Effectiveness: What effectiveness?


Once you turn over all the stones, then you start on the pebbles and the grains of sand. Japan Tobacco (ironically) has released a breath freshening drink for men. There was no woman's version that I could find, but JT knows that men are the stinkier ones and need more help in this department.
I could have designed a more exciting label with only a stick and a bit of dirt to draw in, but at least it does it's best to get the message across to you as 'fresh breath' is written in English, Japanese hiragana, and kanji. I decided to spice up the picture a bit with some trick photography courtesy of photoshop. Now that that's taken care of, how effective is it?

fresh breath for men drink

A breath freshening drink may sound original but how do you make it taste good? It's seems that Japan Tabacco doesn't know either. The bottle ingredients list rosemary extract near the top, but the other ones are hard to make any sense of. Tastes more like a strange mix of Pocari Sweat, toothpaste and menthol. If that sounds good to you then you're welcome to all the rest of it.

Name: Fresh Breath for Men
Type: Drink
Flavours: Comes in only one flavour so far: bad
Initial Reaction: Disgusting
Effectiveness: None as it was undrinkable.

Well despite science's best efforts to date, bad breath continues to plague society with it's evils. Only time, money, hard work and research will once and for all take away our fear of eating garlic bread before going to a pick up bar. Until then, the only effective option from the list above is Breath Care's mint/parsley swallowable capsules, that is if you don't mind looking like a pill popper, burping minty gas and being really thirsty.




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