March 21, 2007
Eleven-year-old Alex Sorto, a student at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland, believes that eating broccoli will help boost test scores at his school. For now, however, Eastern's administrators are eschewing vegetables in favor of peppermints. Before students took the Maryland School Assessments, Principal Charlotte Boucher ordered 3,600 peppermint candies, which she believes help youngsters remain calm and focused. Lots of websites and some scientific studies support her conclusions, too, and athletes who have a sniff of peppermint before competition apparently have been known to perform better than those who don't. But we have doubts. Exhibit A: Peppermint Patty. The tomboyish friend of Charlie Brown certainly wouldn't have performed well on Maryland's standardized test--she habitually received D-minus grades and thought that Snoopy, despite his obvious canine attributes, was a funny-looking human. Quite frankly, Alex Sorto's broccoli suggestion, which would pump kids full of brain-boosting vitamins B and C and K, is a better, if less palate-pleasing, plan.
"The Power of Peppermint Is Put to the Test," by Lori Aratani, Washington Post, March 20, 2007