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The Kendal Mint Company

02-Oct-20

Last updated: 02-Oct-20

By Stuart Leaney.

My first (and only experience) of Kendal mint cake was my Dad giving it to me whilst on a family walking holiday in the Lake District. It was wet and I was a grumpy teenager and I’m not sure if he gave it to me as an energy boost or just to shut me up for the 30 seconds it takes teenagers to engulf their food.

27 years later I find myself in the fortunate position to review the Kendal Mint Company's action pack.

History of Kendal mint cake

Invented ‘by accident’ in the 19th century, this super-sweet confection has become a favourite of walkers and explorers ever since. Made with sugar, glucose, water and peppermint oil it's been referred to as the worlds first energy bar. Kendal Mint Cake was taken on the trans-Antarctic expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton 1914-1917. It was also used by Sir Chris Bonington in 1975 to conquer Everest.

About the Kendal Mint Company

Kendal Mint Co. (KMC) is a new, dynamic business based in the heart of the Lake District.

"Through our passion we have breathed new life into one of the most iconic British products in recent memory, Kendal Mint Cake. 100 years of heritage meets cutting edge Sports Science. Together with an original manufacturer and an Informed Sport BRC AA manufacturing facility, our team of experts have created a great range of outstanding evolutionary products, derived from the original energy bar, for today’s sports nutrition market.

By 2021 we aim to have reduced our single-use packaging by 75%."

What is in the action pack

  • KMC NRG BAR Kendal Mint Cake Recharged 85g (x1)
  • KMC NRG BAR Chocolate Coated Kendal Mint Cake Recharged 50g (x1)
  • KMC NRG GEL Raspberry & Mint Flavour Energy Gel 70g (x1)
  • KMC NRG GEL+ Mint Flavour Caffeine Energy Gel 70g (x1)
  • KMC NRG GEL+ Citrus & Mint Flavour Caffeine Energy Gel 70g (x1)
  • KMC NRG GEL Citrus & Mint Flavour Energy Gel 70g (x1)
  • KMC NRG GEL Chocolate & Mint Flavour Energy Gel 70g (x1)
  • KMC ISO MIX Citrus & Mint Isotonic Hydration & Energy Drink Mix 37g (x1)
  • KMC PRO MIX Chocolate Mint Whey Protein Recovery Drink Mix 40g (x1)

If you’ve not been paying attention, the Kendal Mint Co. products contain mint. As a fan of mint (ideally smashed to an inch of its life and mixed with rum) I was excited to try the 9 different products.

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Why Mint?

Mint is scientifically proven to help promote digestion; it's pretty good at clearing your airways AND it's even been proven to increase pain threshold.

As a keen long distance runner, nutrition is a vital part of my training and racing. During races I’ve always tried to fuel using a mixture of sports products and everyday food. There is little (zero) science to my nutrition but the one rule I do follow is if you need to train your gut to use it, then use something else.  

When reviewing the action pack I wanted to ensure I was doing so in conditions that get close to replicating a hard training run or race - taking a gel on a 5 mile slow jog isn’t really a fair test and would be of little use to the readers.

Gels

All KMC gels are gluten free and Vegan. They have Maltodextrin & Fructose in a ratio of 2:1 and what I would describe as the larger size. Coming in at 70g, they are twice the volume of some other gels. I found this made them a bit thinner and more palatable and less sticky in my mouth - the thicker gels seem to coat my mouth a bit too much. I have often found with gels that the instant sugar hit is followed by an energy dip, but I didn’t find that with KMC gels.

When did I use the products?

KMC PRO MIX Chocolate Mint Whey Protein Recovery Drink Mix

When training for an ultra there’s a session I do called the double double. 3.5 miles in the morning, 17.5 miles in the evening then an early start with a further 17.5 miles then 3.5 miles in the evening [Editor's note: Ah, this is why he wins races!!].

With 11 hours between the 2 long runs, recovery is vitally important, as is fuelling for the morning long run. The flavour of the drink was delicious and, unlike most recovery drinks, it did not feel too thick or “heavy” and did not fill me up and stop me from eating my dinner. 

Ultimately, did it work? Honestly, I don’t know. I think there are so many factors that go into decent recovery that identifying one aspect making the difference is difficult. What I will say is that my legs felt less sore than they normally would and my energy levels seemed fine.

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KMC NRG GEL+ Mint Flavour Caffeine Energy Gel 70g

I took this on the second part of the back to back long run. It was early morning and a nice fresh mint gel was exactly what my tastebuds wanted. The added bonus is that it didn’t feel like I was eating toothpaste. I didn’t have any breakfast before this run, so the gel was going into an empty stomach and, like all their gels, I had no stomach discomfort.

KMC NRG BAR Kendal Mint Cake Recharged

The product that’s probably closest to the roots of Kendal mint cake is minty and refreshing with a unique consistency that’s difficult to explain - a touch powdery without being dry, I didn’t feel the need to drink lots of liquid to wash it down. I ate this during a hard 11 mile progressive run. I wouldn’t normally eat a bar during higher intensity workouts but I thought I would give it a go. I ate it at mile 4 and had zero digestive issues and I was able to continue my run and performed how I wanted to.

KMC NRG BAR Chocolate Coated Kendal Mint Cake Recharged

As above but with a rather nice chocolate covering, this time I used it in conjunction with a couple of gels on a longer, slower run. This was my favourite flavour and, much like the mint cake bar, provided zero digestive issues.

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KMC NRG GEL Raspberry & Mint Flavour Energy Gel

A refreshing and light gel predominantly tasting of raspberries, but with that now familiar mint flavour. Slightly sweet, I’m pretty sure I could have 5 of these in a single run and not get fed up of the flavour. Personally, I would use these earlier in ultras before the inevitable need to consume caffeine.

KMC NRG GEL+ Citrus & Mint Flavour Caffeine Energy Gel 70g
KMC NRG GEL Citrus & Mint Flavour Energy Gel 70g

Flavour wise, these were my least favourite. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had worse gels (I’m looking at you, Cherry Bakewell), but the mint and citrus seemed just a little too much for my palate. However, they performed like all of KMC’s gels. I took both these gels during a hard hilly trail run, intentionally running hard on the downhills, and took them within 10 minutes of each other to see if I could force a stomach issue. Whether it’s the mint or the thinner consistency (most likely both), I had no issues.

KMC NRG GEL Chocolate & Mint Flavour Energy Gel 70g

Back on the chocolate and mint flavour, and it's just as nice as the whey recovery and the recharge bar. I took this gel in conjunction with the KMC ISO MIX Citrus & Mint Isotonic Hydration & Energy Drink Mix 37g. 

The sweetness of the chocolate combined well with the sharpness of the citrus flavour. I can see myself using these 2 in long ultras where my taste buds change throughout the race. I wanted to test these products on a longer hilly trail which includes a faster finish - a progressive 15 miler. I had zero stomach issues and I was rather pleased with my consistent energy levels throughout the run, with the last 5 miles being especially encouraging.

There are so many gel flavours and brands to choose from and before trying these products I thought I had found my brand of choice. However, I now feel as though KMC’s products will be a regular in my sports nutrition.

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Pros of The Kendal Mint Co. Products

  • Easy to digest, I really can’t express this enough.
  • No energy spike or subsequent dip.
  • The gels aren’t too sticky.
  • A thinner recovery drink which doesn’t fill you up.

Cons of The Kendal Mint Co. Products

  • It’s mint, if you don’t like mint you may not like these products.
  • The bars have a unique texture, this may not be for everyone.
  • There’s no moijto flavour.
Score  
Taste 9
Performance 9
Value 8
Design and Packaging 8
Overall 8.5

 

All images courtesy of The Kendal Mint Co.

Review The Kendal Mint Company

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