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Sunday, November 02, 2008

A lifetime lover of LifeSavers


Does anyone besides me eat LifeSavers candy anymore? I went into a Safeway store in Scottsdale the other day and they had no LifeSavers for sale at the registers. The checker told me that they carry some LifeSaver items in bags in the candy section. My response was,"In Bags??!!" I asked where the LifeSavers were that came in rolls and were always by the register. She looked at me quizzically as though I was from another planet. It figured, she was young and was probably a Tic-Tac girl.

I have had a lifetime love affair with LifeSavers. Sure, when I was a kid, occasionally I was disloyal and would buy a roll of Sherbets or some other unworthy substitute, but LifeSavers were always the best flavored hard candy on the planet. Every store sold LifeSavers and they usually carried the entire selection. I especially remember the candy/tobacco stands at the main downtown post office in Cincinnati. They were run by guys who had lost their sight, probably veterans of World War II. They had a display of LifeSavers that contained every flavor from the assorted fruits to each individual flavor. There they were, in long rows on the counter: assorted, cherry, Wint-O-Green, Cryst-O-Mint, Pep-O-Mint, butter rum, and others. They sold for 5 cents a roll and were wrapped in wax paper and foil plus a printed paper outer wrapper. It would have been a tough package to open if not for the little string on the end of the roll which easily opened them when pulled.

LifeSavers were invented in 1912 by a candy maker named Clarence Crane who was primarily in the chocolate business. Because chocolate was hard to sell in the summer, he came up with the idea of selling a hard candy during that season. He got the idea to make them round from watching a local pharmacist make pills. The idea of putting a hole in the middle was his own.

In 1913, Crane sold LifeSavers for $2,900, probably a big mistake since the buyer, Edward Noble, went on to make millions from them. They were eventually bought by Kraft, then Wrigley’s Gum.

Like Lifebuoy soap, Prell shampoo, Ammident toothpaste, and many other popular products from the past, I guess LifeSavers have lost some of their appeal and sales to the many modern mints and candies. I still remember their ads that read, "LifeSavers, the candy with the hole, still only 5 cents." Those days are gone, they now sell for 89 cents and worse than that, they don’t have the little string on the end anymore so they are very difficult to open.

Times have changed and so have LifeSavers but as long as I can open the package, I will buy them. It would be nice, though, if they put the little string back on the end.

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