PRODUCTS Hip breath fresheners and dental supplies
HOW THEY STARTED Spicy-food eaters looking for relief
JUDGMENT Is anyone really against fresh breath?
Bad breath used to be furtively treated with a smuggled Certs. But oral-care products have become chic: the hottest is Cool Mint Listerine PocketPaks, stamp-size and gel-coated pieces of paper that dissolve on the tongue and deliver a burst of mouthwash. Released last year, the strips are a hit with teens and young singles who openly pop the tabs in trendy night spots. At the Oscars, Hugh Grant was captured on camera placing one into Sandra Bullock's mouth. Handbag designer Kate Spade and celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown have their own lines of breath mints, and toothbrushes by designers like Philippe Starck are leaping off the shelves. Experts attribute the craze for freshness to the fact that Americans are eating spicier foods. To those who aren't with the program, California Breath Clinics, which treat halitosis, will send a gentle e-mail from an anonymous complainer, letting the offenders know that their breath needs freshening.
--By Lisa McLaughlin