DARIEN — Thirty-two years after Merrily Talbott graduated from Darien High School and left the state to attend Vanderbilt University, she has returned to town as an entrepreneur with her new product — Placebos mints.

“I’d say it’s a candy company,” Talbott said. “But it’s not about the candy.”

The mints play on the placebo effect — the idea your brain and body can be tricked to believe a fake treatment is real.

If a person believes a pill will help with whatever they’re suffering, chances are good it will help, she said. “Research is showing now that placebos can work even when you know you’re taking them.”

After years as a high school psychology teacher and counselor, Talbott decided to try her hand at entrepreneurship. Last fall she launched the business, which for now sells only Placebos mints. Eventually, she wants to include a gum product. The idea for the business came from Talbott’s desire to find fun ways of empowering and supporting people, and draws inspiration from her previous career.

“I’ve started things before, but launching a product is not something I’ve tried,” Talbott said.

While visiting family in Connecticut in June, Talbott brought the mints to several shops on the East Coast — one of them being the Darien News Store, a place she she frequented during her childhood.

“It’s one of the first stores that I ever remembered because my dad worked around the corner,” she said. “We would buy our school supplies there. It’s still exactly the same.”

Though she lives in Colorado, Talbott still recognized the store’s importance. “It’s like a Darien institution that place,” she said. “That store has been in the family for generations.”

Talbott recalled stopping by the store as a young girl to buy candy with her sister. Now her own candy product is available on its shelves. The type of “remedies” currently for sale are procrastination, perfectionism, self doubt, writer’s block, a broken heart and the No. 1 seller: political despair.

“A lot of people need relief from that right now,” Talbott said.

New remedies like technological frustration will also be available later this year. Inside each package are the mints, as well as a tiny scroll that gives “dosage instructions,” ways to harness the power of the placebo effect to a consumer’s benefit.

“The other side gives practical suggestions,” Talbott said. “Real-life steps to overcome things.”

Since the company is in startup mode, Talbott has done most of the ground work to get her product in stores. She has managed to get her Placebos mints in the San Francisco-area shops.

“I’m excited now because I can say my mints are coast to coast,” she said.

For now, she is her own sales representative, making calls or emails to see if retailers need to re-stock. In the future, she plans to work with a distributor.

After returning from her East Coast trip, she was notified one of the stores had already sold out of Placebos. She said the news provided encouragement and she was happy the trip allowed her to bring the new product to a store that played such a big part in her childhood.

“The fact that it comes back around full circle and they’re in the Darien News Store where I used to buy candy at is amazing,” Talbott said.


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