Andrew Adler is an entrepreneur with more than thirty year’s experience in manufacturing, sales, and promotions, and a master martial artist with an understanding of traditional Chinese medicine. He’s also the founder and president of Cotton Mouth Candy, fruit-flavor lozenges specially formulated to increase saliva and help alleviate dry mouth.
Adler didn’t set out to be the Willy Wonka of dry mouth lozenges. He only came up with the product as a way to help his friend who was in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment.
Common home remedies for dry mouth include drinking water and sucking on ice cubes to stay hydrated, and chewing gum to stimulate the flow of saliva. If you ask your doctor or dentist for help, they’ll likely suggest Biotene, an over the counter solution that contains Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperoxidase, and Lysozyme, which are enzymes that replenishing saliva’s defenses. Biotene works, but many find the taste none to pleasant, and in some cases, it can have side effects such as allergic reaction, diarrhea, stomach cramps and increased blood sugar levels.
Adler put together a mix of herbs and spices he knew would naturally boost saliva production, and asked a confectioner friend to come up with a hard candy delivery system. As Adler explains, any lozenge, whether intended to relive dry mouth, sore throat or bad breath, is considered “candy” — the added ingredients are what gives them their medicinal value. Cotton Mouth Candy doesn’t claim to be “medicine.” Yes, it helps with dry mouth, but at the foundation are ingredients including Sorbitol, gum Arabic, natural flavors, artificial colors and other natural ingredients. It’s also gluten-free, GMO-free, fat-free, preservative-free and certified kosher. Plus, it’s sugar-free and has no bitter after-taste.
Even with Adler’s trust in traditional Chinese medicine, he was “dumbfounded” by the instant popularity of his lozenges.
“I did not realize the full gravity of the need to get rid of dry mouth. I thought (the hospitals) were giving it away, but they were selling it — and selling out because so many patients are on one of the hundreds of prescription medications that cause dry mouth,” Adler says.
“Three-quarters of the population will suffer from dry mouth during their lifetime. Fifty-seven percent deal with dry mouth all the time,” Adler adds.
Being a longtime advocate for the cannabis industry, Adler also knew that “cotton mouth” was a common complaint within that community. It’s logical to think that cannabis-related dry mouth only comes from smoking, since cigarettes can dry out your mouth, too. However, the real cause of cotton mouth is connected to the human endocannabinoid system. Namely, it’s the way cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, influence the endocannabinoid system. Without sounding to doctorish, the endocannabinoid agonist anandamide binds to the glandular cannabinoid receptors and blocks the action of the saliva-inducing compounds norepinephrine and methacholine, leading to a decrease in the secretion of saliva.
Because Adler’s initial customers were hospitals and cannabis dispensaries, he first created very mainstream packaging and marketed the product under the plain-Jane name of Cotton Mouth Lozenges. When smoke shops started calling for the product, Adler tweaked the bag to me more colorful and eye-catching and used the name Cotton Mouth Candy. In realty, it’s exactly the same product.
The formula for Cotton Mouth Candy remains the same as when it was first developed. It can be officially be labeled as “organic” as at least 90% of the ingredients meet that requirement. The only thing that keeps Cotton Mouth Candy from being 100% organic is the use of artificial coloring. But even there, Adler points out that laboratory-test artificial colors are actually considered safer than natural colors that can lead to allergic reactions. Natural red coloring, for instance, is made from shrimp and lobster shells, which can send people allergic to shellfish into anaphylactic shock.
The official launch of Cotton Mouth Candy was at the big CHAMPS trade show in 2012. Within the smoke shop industry there was nothing else like it, so to introduce it within that new market, Adler handed out samples, and rather than selling direct to stores, he turned sales over to distributors.
“I looked at the landscape and I saw that I had competition within the big chain stores, and being a nobody without a big budget, breaking in there was going to be a challenge. But I was confident I could wiggle my way into the smoke shop industry because those are regular people like me,” Adler says.
Cotton Mouth Lozenges eventually did find a place in mainstream stores, and while Biotene has now come out with their own lozenge, Adler’s product outsells them three to one in some of the drug store chains. You can find Cotton Mouth lozenges and Cotton Mouth Candy in 35,000 retail locations, including 10,000 smoke shops and dispensaries, across the North America and Europe. Over the years, tens of millions of pounds of lozenges have been produced, packaged and shipped from the company’s state-of-the-art production facility in Philadelphia.
Cotton Mouth Candy is available in fruit and sour mixtures. Each 3.3-ounce package contains 30 pieces and carries a suggested retail price of $4.99.
“It’s a slam dunk of a sale especially if smoke shops give customers a sample so they see instantly that it works and tastes great,” Adler says. “It’s also a perfect add-on item. Because the lozenges are individually wrapped, some stores will actually sell them by the handful for a quarter each.”
“I had no doubt Cotton Mouth Candy would catch on,” Adler adds. “It’s a product that I use myself. I started out to help a friend, and I’m so happy that it’s still helping people.
“It wasn’t originally about making money, but it turned into that — I know from experience that any product will sell if its quality and priced right.”
Cotton Mouth Candy