We’ve all at some point in our lives tried these cute little round candies. They were a real joy as children got to taste the different flavors and even trade with your friends. We would play games and stick our fingers through them. However, sometimes it’s not all fun as there is something sinister behind these colorful candies. Here are 10 Life Saver Facts that will Change your Life.
10. Maple Sugar
Clarence Crane, the inventor of Life Savers, was a successful businessman. His father was a maple sugar producer and Clarence worked with him until 1903, until he then decided to branch out and form his own company. His company quickly emerged as the largest producer of maple sugar in the world. Two years later Clarence sold his maple sugar business and started the Queen Victoria Chocolate Company. He realized that many people refused to buy chocolate in the summer months because they melted easily in the heat. So, in 1912, he invented a “summer candy” which was peppermint that could withstand heat. He later got the idea to change the shape of the candy to resemble a traditional ring-style life preserver also known as a “lifesaver”. He did this to compete with the European mints that were square and flat. Initially, Life Savers only came in peppermint flavor. Crane marketed the candy, as Pep-O-Mint Life Savers as a breath mint, claiming on the packaging that it was “For That Stormy Breath.” The cardboard tubed packaging depicted a sailor tossing a young woman a life preserver. In 1913, Crane sold the rights to Life Savers to a New York candy manufacturer. They changed the packaging to better preserve the candy and marketed the candy to saloon owners, to give to their patrons in order to improve their breath after drinking and smoking. Once saloon owners began selling the candy, Life Savers soared into popularity.
9. The Company was sold for $ 2,900
After trademarking the company in 1912, Crane sold the rights to Pep-O-Mint to Edward Noble in 1913 for a mere $ 2,900. Edward Noble, already a candy industrialist and later founder of ABC – American Broadcasting Company; was rich and famous in his own right. Noble helped promote the Life Savers Brand to what makes it what it is today. He changed things by eliminating the cardboard packaging which was unsuccessful and repackaged them to keep the mints fresher. This process was done by hand until 1919 until his brother Robert Noble developed machinery to streamline the process. Robert was CEO and primary shareholder of Life Savers Brand for more than 40 years until it merged with Beech-Nut in 1956. Together they significantly expanded the market, by installing Life Savers displays next to every cash register at restaurants and grocery stores. He also encouraged owners of these establishments to give customers a nickel in change to encourage sales. The slogan “Still only 5 cents” helped Life Savers to become a favorite treat for children. Crane remained involved in the candy business for the remainder of his life but not with Life Savers. He formed another company called ‘The Crane Chocolate Company’ in 1916, it did well, but not as well as the Life Savers Brand did with future generations.
8. A Pharmaceutical Accident
The whole notion came about accidentally while Crane was at the pharmacy purchasing flavoring extracts. He noticed their pill making machine, producing round, flat pills and figured this would perfect for his peppermints. Single Punch Tableting machines are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry, they are high-speed machines that create thousands of tablets in a small period of time. At the time it was a novel idea because most mints were imported and were only square-shaped; they were pressed into sheets and then sliced into squares. Crane hired a pill manufacturer to make and package his mints, but there was an issue; the pill machine kept poking holes in the middle of the candy. Crane didn’t mind, he thought it was fantastic, he loved the round, flat mints with a hole in the middle, they looked better than the European imports. Crane thought they looked like life preservers and that’s what he called them – Life Savers. In 1925, technology improved to allow a hole in the center of fruit candies introduced as the “fruit drop with the hole” and came in Orange, Lemon and Lime, each packaged in their own separate rolls. In contrast to the opaque white mints previously produced by the company, these new candies were crystal-like in appearance. The new flavors quickly became popular with the public, especially the kids.
7. The Gift that keeps on Giving
In 1921, the company began to produce fruit drops but always staying true to its mission. They never deviated much from their original products. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, five new mint flavors were introduced, Molas-O-Mint, Spear-O-Mint, Choc-O-Mint, Stik-O-Pep, and Cryst-O Mint. Aside from the mints, four original clear drop candy flavors were introduced shortly thereafter. The flavors were a sign of the times and in demand, they were anise, butter rum, cola, and root beer. These were not as popular as the fruit drop flavors and were eventually discontinued. In 1927 cherry flavor was introduced and subsequently a Cough Drop with menthol, but it was not successful either, kids don’t usually like medicinal flavored anything! The same year also saw a new tropical flavor, pineapple. Everyone’s favorite, the classic “Five-Flavor” rolls were introduced in 1935, offering a selection of five different flavors in one roll – pineapple, lime, orange, cherry, and lemon. Aside from that, the flavor lineup has not changed for nearly 70 years. It wasn’t until until 2003, that three of the flavors were replaced, making the rolls pineapple, cherry, raspberry, watermelon, and blackberry. However, orange was subsequently reintroduced and blackberry was dropped. In 1992, Life Savers Gummies were introduced to the line-up of Life Saver products, the flavors came in three varieties – five flavors, Grape and Mixed Berry. That being said, the only thing that really changed throughout the years has been ownership as its merged and was bought out by different companies over time.
6. All About Mergers and Acquisitions
Like many company’s these days, you can only survive if you keep getting bigger, and swallowing the smaller fish. The Life Savers Brand went through its series of mergers and acquisitions which began in 1958. Being relatively untouched for 45 years is a good track record. But did you know that they also purchased Beech-Nut Life in 1968, a company that is well known for selling baby food? It doesn’t stop there, thirteen years later it was taken over by Squibb, which is better known as a pharmaceutical company. In 2000, Nabisco bought it over, Nabisco is better known for its cookies, and they wanted to get into the snack food business. That did not last long either before Kraft gobbled them up. Today it is owned by the Mars Company, yes, the chocolate makers, and is more in line with the snack food business. In Canada, where things are always different and in a class of their own, the Canadian Life Savers company was acquired by chocolate makers Hershey Canada, by Beta Brands and eventually by Kraft Foods. They also expanded their line to include Life Savers Gummies, Life Saver Minis, Creme Savers and Life Saver Fusions. Discontinued varieties include Fruit Juicers, Holes, Life Saver Lollipops, and Squeezit. In 1995 a Life Savers drink was introduced to compete with Snapple and Fruitopia but was quickly discontinued.
5. Old Holiday Traditions
Life Savers has kept its squeaky clean image for many years. In fact, they have been a model of political correctness. They were so loved that during World War II, other candy manufacturers donated their sugar rations to keep Life Savers in production for the Armed Forces, as a reminder of home. Everyone remembers these special candies growing up, no matter what generation you’re from. In the 80’s they had a special Holiday Edition gifts set, for that kid who was particularly good all year round. The Box Story Book contained a full 10 rolls of different flavors. They were awesome, set in a book called the Sweet Storybook. It had become a Christmas tradition. The Life Saver book was packed with the classic Five Flavor roll, as well as Butter Rum, Pep-o-mint, Winter Green, Strawberry, and Tropical Fruits. With the Life Saver Flavor pack, it was always either exciting or disappointing to see what flavor came up next.
4. Urban Legend
There’s an Urban legend around this favorite candy which is such that the inventor created the life preserver style candy after his daughter choked to death. His reasoning for creating the Life Saver candy with a hole in the middle, was that if lodged in the throat, you would still be able to breathe through the hole in the candy. Hence the name. It is said the inventor created it so to prevent anyone else from choking to death. Further urban legend has it that he was so distraught after his daughter’s death, he committed suicide. So, we all know by now that this urban legend is false. Clarence Crane did not have a daughter, he only had a son by the name of Harold Hart Crane, who lived till the ripe age of 33. His son never choked on any candy and died, but rather committed suicide from depression. Clarence Crane also did not kill himself, he lived till the age of 56 and died from prostate cancer. He went on to be a successful businessman even though he sold his beloved company in 1913. He went on to other ventures and started other companies. He died a year before his son killed himself and never got to see his heir’s demise.
3. The Inventor’s son committed suicide.
Life Savers was invented by a Clarence Crane in the early 1900s in Garrettsville, Ohio, USA. He may be well known for having invented this popular candy, but he also had a famous son, Hart Crane. Hart was hailed as being one of the most influential poets of the century. Born in 1899, Clarence’s only son, Hart Crane, had many issues. His mother Grace Edna suffered from mental illness, his parents’ marriage was a difficult one and they divorced in 1917. He dropped out of high school, moved to New York and took different copywriting jobs, living with different friends and became a heavy drinker. In the early 1920s, some literary magazines published some of his work and he gained notoriety. It was while working on his epic poem” The Bridge”, that his drinking got worse and it became a serious problem. While in Paris in 1929, he started a brawl over a tab at a bar. He was beaten, arrested and jailed. After six days in prison, a friend bailed him out and gave him money to go back to New York, where he finished his work, but it received poor reviews and the sense of failure became too much for him to handle. While in Mexico on a fellowship in 1932, his drinking continued as he suffered bouts of depression and struggled with his personal demons. On a voyage back from the Caribbean in 1932, he committed suicide by jumping overboard the ship Orizaba while traveling back to New York. After hours of search and rescue, the body was declared lost at sea and was never recovered.
2. A Sign of the Times
When it first began Life Savers only came in peppermint flavor and was more of a mint than a candy, then called Pep-o-mint. Crane came up with the slogan “For that Stormy Breath” playing on the nautical theme, it may sound gross, but it worked. Crane’s Life Savers also had an ironic popularity since it was also the year the Titanic was lost at sea in 1912. For years to come, the ads centered around its shape, and images of the water, beach life, and the sea. Emphasizing its fresh mint flavors and fresh breath. After Life Savers was sold to Edward Noble, their marketing changed to focus more on children. They used the slogan, “Still only 5 cents” to highlight its affordable cost. It was also marketed as “The Candy with a Hole”, which was obvious to everyone. During the Depression and times of War, it was hard to get sugar and candy and it was considered a luxury item. So, Edward Noble marketed it as a more affordable product and small treat to make people forget about hard times. Lifesavers became a part of American history with slogans such as “Fish in your pocket for lil ‘ol nickel’, “Takes your breath away” and “for a breath-taking rescue” and “Now you see them …now you don’t”. It catered to mostly children, who would play games with the candy and quickly pop them in their mouths.
1. All the Flavors you can Imagine
Here is a comprehensive list of all their flavors. We all know they started off as mints, the original flavor was peppermint. Six years later, six other flavors were introduced, Wint-O-Green, Cl-O-Ve, Lic-O-Rice, Cinn-O-Mon, Vi-O-Let and Choc-O-Late, Malt-O-milk and these remained the standard flavors until the late 1920s. Nice play on words, try figuring them out. When the company began to produce solid fruit drops with holes in the center, they came in Orange, Lemon and Lime, each packaged in their own separate rolls until they created the Five Flavor pack in 1935. Shortly thereafter, four new flavors were quickly introduced, anise, butter rum, cola, and root beer, they were not as popular and were eventually dropped. In 1931, the Life Savers “Cough Drop” was introduced with menthol but it was not successful either. The same year brought us pineapple and cherry, the response was positive. In 1932, a new variety of mints called Cryst-O-Mint was introduced. The classic “Five-Flavor” rolls offered a selection of five different flavors, pineapple, lime, orange, cherry, and lemon. In 2003, three of the flavors were replaced, making the five flavors- pineapple, cherry, raspberry, watermelon, and blackberry. However, orange made a comeback and blackberry was dropped. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, four new mint flavors were introduced: Molas-O-Mint, Spear-O-Mint, Choc-O-Mint, and Stik-O-Pep. In 1981, once purchased by Nabisco Brands some mint flavors, including Cl-O-Ve, Vi-O-Let, Lic-O-Rice, and Cinn-O-Mon were discontinued due to poor sales. Nabisco introduced a new Cinnamon flavor called “Hot Cin-O-Mon” to replace the Cinn-O-Mon flavor. The other original mint flavors were retired and a number of other flavors were also quickly discontinued. In 2004, Wrigley introduced two new mint flavors Orange Mint and Sweet Mint and revived Wint-O-Green. Still waiting for other magical flavors.