6 June 2024

Love it or hate it, there’s a buzz over mint-chocolate drinks in Thailand, after Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate Paetongtarn Shinawatra revealed that it is her favourite beverage.

Whether it’s her affection for the beverage, or the flavour itself has always been a subject of debate, many Thais have sought out the drink to try the taste.

Behind the “craze”

The social media buzz began on May 15th, one day after the general elections took place. As Paetongtarn entered the Pheu Thai headquarters, to prepare for a press conference, she stopped at the party’s cafe, ThinkLab, to buy a glass of “Cocoa Mint”.

While greeting reporters along the way, Paetongtarn told them that she loves mint-chocolate and that the party’s cafe made the best, while adding that she needed something sweet to boost her energy for work.

Since then, many people (including Pheu Thai supporters) have queued up at the cafe to taste the drink, which saw up to 160 per day orders at its peak. It also sparked social media content suggesting where to get the best mint-chocolate drinks in Bangkok, aside from the cafe at Pheu Thai’s headquarters.

Much debated flavour

The preference for mint-chocolate has always been divisive among foodies around the world, and it seems to be a never-ending debate between mint-choc lovers and mint-choc haters.

Those who love it say that it is a great combination, between the fresh and sweetness of mint, and the richness of chocolate. In contrast, those who are anti-mint-chocolate say that it tastes like toothpaste and should never have been invented.

Interestingly, in the United States, National Chocolate Mint Day is observed on February 19th, recognised by the US National Confectioners Association, for people to celebrate their love of the flavour. Also, mint chocolate chip is among the top five ice-cream flavours among Americans, according to a survey by YouGov in 2022.

In South Korea, mint-chocolate snacks have been increasing in popularity. From cakes and choco-pies to milk products, some brands went as far as inventing bizarre recipes, such as mint-chocolate flavoured soju and fried chicken with mint-chocolate dipping sauce. Korean netizens even established “Minchodan” or the “mint-chocolate-army” to express their love of the flavour, as well as “Banminchodan” for mint-choc haters.

Mint-chocolate snacks and confectionery also took Japan by storm. If you’re a devoted lover, then look no further. There’s a wide variety of mint-chocolate goodies to choose from in Japan, such as chocolate bars with mint-chocolate-chip fillings, mint-chocolate covered biscuits and even mint-chocolate flavoured beer.

Those who love it

Some Thai politicians have reviewed Pheu Thai’s mint-chocolate drinks, following the social media buzz, thanks to Paetongtarn.

On Tuesday, Move Forward party leader Pita Limjaroenrat tasted the mint-chocolate drink at Pheu Thai’s café, along with his favourite orange-black coffee.

Pita complimented the mint-chocolate drink as being “more than 100%” delicious. Then, he tasted the orange-black coffee brewed by Pheu Thai’s cafe, which he said tastes very similar to Move Forward party’s Sol Bar.

He also said that, even though the flavours of the two drinks are completely different, they are well combined as one if they are tasted together, possibly a reference to the relationship between Move Forward and Pheu Thai parties.

Earlier, Pita’s ex-wife, Chutima Teepanat, posted a photo of the mint-chocolate drink from Pheu Thai’s cafe on her Instagram. Paetongtarn asked whether she liked it, in which Chutima replied “It’s the best!”

Those who hate it

Pheu Thai’s other prime ministerial candidate, Srettha Taweesin, also tasted the drink. He commented that the drink tasted like toothpaste and scored the drink a poor 4 out of 10.

Srettha, who prefers iced-chocolate and coffee, said that he could not understand why people like mint-chocolate, as he feels that the two ingredients don’t go well together. He even suggested that they should put less mint flavoured syrup and more chocolate into the drink.

Our take on the mint-chocolate drink

After members of our team tasted the “Cocoa Mint” from that cafe, despite our opposing views on mint-chocolate, we came to an agreement that the drink did not taste like toothpaste.

For those who are not-so-into-mint-chocolate, they say the flavours are great, but not extra special to a point that it’s a must-try, as such flavours can be found in other cafes. This can, however, be ordered occasionally when in the mood for something sweet.

As for those who are pro-mint-chocolate, they say the drink is delicious and a perfect combination between the richness of dark chocolate and sweet peppermint syrup, enough to feel slightly refreshed in the afternoon.

The key is pumping the right amount of mint syrup, without overpowering the iced-chocolate beverage, which some other cafes may have done. As for this one, the amount of mint in this chocolate drink is “perfect”, according to mint-chocolate lovers in our team.

VERDICT: Not worth the “social-media-hype”, but overall a nice cool-and-sweet-drink. So, it’s 8 out of 10 from us.

By Nad Bunnag, Thai PBS World