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History of Life Savers Candy

Life Savers candy is a well-known brand of ring-shaped hard and soft candy. The candies come in a range of mints and fruit flavors and are known for their distinctive packaging, which comes in paper-wrapped aluminum foil rolls. The brand was invented by candy manufacturer Clarence Crane of Garrettsville, Ohio in 1912 as a “summer candy” that could withstand heat better than chocolate.

The mints were originally called “Crane’s Peppermint Life Savers” and were sold in clear bags that resembled those used for medicines. The candy became popular and Crane soon expanded the line to include other flavors, such as Wint-O-Green, Clove, Licorice, and Cinnamon. The candies’ shape and name were inspired by the life preservers used on boats, and the original packaging featured a sailor tossing a life preserver to a person in the water.

Over the years, the Life Savers brand has become an iconic part of American culture. The candy has been featured in countless advertisements, TV shows, and movies, and has even been used as a plot device in some films. Today, Life Savers candy is still enjoyed by people of all ages and continues to be a popular choice for those looking for a sweet treat.

Origins and Invention

The Birth of Life Savers

Life Savers candy was invented in 1912 by Clarence Crane, a candy maker from Garrettsville, Ohio. Crane had previously been in the maple sugar business but had switched to chocolates the year before. However, he found that chocolates sold poorly in the summer as they would melt due to the heat.

Crane was determined to create a candy that would withstand the summer heat and not melt. He came up with the idea of creating a candy with a hole in the center, which would increase the surface area and reduce the candy’s contact with the tongue. This would make it last longer and not melt as quickly. Crane called his new candy “Life Savers” because of its resemblance to the life preservers used on boats.

Clarence Crane and the Pep-O-Mint Flavor

The first flavor of Life Savers was Pep-O-Mint, which became an instant success. Crane sold the candy in his own store and also began selling it to other stores in the area. In 1913, he formed the Crane’s Peppermint Life Savers Company and began mass-producing the candy.

The success of the Pep-O-Mint flavor led to the creation of other flavors, including Wint-O-Green, Clove, Licorice, and Cinnamon. In 1919, Crane sold the rights to Life Savers to the Williamson Candy Company for $2,900,000. The company continued to produce new flavors and variations of the candy, including fruit-flavored Life Savers and Life Savers Gummies.

In 1981, Nabisco Brands Inc. acquired Life Savers and introduced a new cinnamon flavor called “Hot Cin-O-Mon.” In 2004, the U.S. Life Savers business was acquired by Wrigley’s, which introduced two new mint flavors for the first time in more than 60 years: Orange Mint and Sweet Mint. Today, Life Savers candy remains a popular treat enjoyed by people of all ages.

Early Production and Growth

Life Savers candy was invented in 1912 by Clarence Crane, a candy maker from Cleveland, Ohio. He wanted to create a candy that could withstand the summer heat, unlike chocolate that would melt in high temperatures. The candy was initially named “Crane’s Peppermint Life Savers” and was sold in a tin container with a hole in the center of each candy.

Expansion of Flavors

In 1913, Crane expanded the flavors to include wintergreen, clove, and licorice. The candy became so popular that Crane had to build a new factory in Port Chester, New York, to meet the demand. The candy’s name was changed to “Pep-O-Mint Life Savers” in 1913, and the iconic ring shape was introduced in 1919.

Throughout the 1920s, Life Savers continued to expand its flavors, including pineapple, cherry, and orange. The company also began advertising on radio programs, which helped to increase its popularity.

Manufacturing Process Innovations

In 1925, Life Savers introduced a new manufacturing process that allowed them to produce candy with a hole in the center more efficiently. The process, called “crimping,” allowed them to produce the candy at a faster rate and reduced waste.

During World War II, Life Savers was one of the only candies that were not rationed, which helped to increase its popularity even further. In the 1950s and 1960s, Life Savers introduced new flavors like Butter Rum, Wild Cherry, and Wint-O-Green.

Today, Life Savers is owned by the Wrigley Company and continues to be a popular candy around the world. The candy’s unique shape and variety of flavors have made it a favorite for over a century.

Branding and Marketing Milestones

The Role of Advertising

Life Savers candy has a long history of iconic advertising campaigns. One of the earliest and most memorable campaigns was the “Hearts and Stars” campaign in the 1920s, which featured the slogan “For a Good Time, Eat Life Savers”. This campaign was so successful that it helped establish Life Savers as a household name.

In the 1950s, Life Savers launched a new advertising campaign featuring the character “Johnny Life Saver”. This campaign was aimed at children and featured Johnny Life Saver as a superhero who saved people from danger using his Life Saver candies. The campaign was a huge success and helped cement Life Savers’ reputation as a fun and playful brand.

Iconic Packaging Design

In addition to its advertising campaigns, Life Savers is also known for its iconic packaging design. The candy’s distinctive shape and the hole in the center have become instantly recognizable symbols of the brand.

Over the years, Life Savers has experimented with different packaging designs, including tin cans, plastic bags, and cardboard boxes. However, the classic roll packaging remains the most popular and enduring design.

In recent years, Life Savers has also introduced limited edition packaging designs, such as the “Holiday Mix” and “Wild Berries” rolls. These special editions have become highly sought after by collectors and fans of the brand.

Ownership Transitions

Nabisco Era

In 1981, Nabisco Brands Inc. bought Life Savers from the E.R. Squibb Corporation, which had acquired the company from the original owners in 1956. Nabisco introduced new flavors such as Butter Rum, Wild Cherry, and Tropical Fruit. The company also created new packaging, including rolls and bags, to make the candy more convenient and portable.

Recent Acquisitions

In 2000, Nabisco was acquired by Kraft Foods, Inc. which then merged with Heinz to become the Kraft Heinz Company in 2015. Life Savers is now owned by the Ferrero Group, which acquired the brand from Nestle in 2018. The Ferrero Group is a family-owned Italian company that is known for its confectionery products such as Nutella, Kinder, and Tic Tac.

Life Savers has gone through several ownership transitions over the years but has remained a popular candy brand. With its iconic ring shape and variety of flavors, it has become a staple in the candy industry.

Cultural Impact

Life Savers in Pop Culture

Life Savers candy has become an iconic symbol of American culture, appearing in movies, TV shows, and even music. One of the most notable references to Life Savers in pop culture is the song “Life is Like a Box of Chocolates” from the movie Forrest Gump. In the song, the line “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” is followed by the sound of a Life Savers wrapper being opened.

In addition to its appearance in films and music, Life Savers has also been referenced in TV shows such as The Simpsons and Friends. The candy’s unique shape and colorful packaging have made it a recognizable and beloved part of American pop culture.

Collectibility of Memorabilia

The popularity of Life Savers candy has also led to a thriving market for Life Savers memorabilia. Collectors can find vintage Life Savers advertisements, signs, and packaging from various eras. Some of the most sought-after items include the original Pep-O-Mint Life Savers tin from 1913 and the 1950s-era Life Savers dispenser.

In recent years, the popularity of Life Savers collectibles has grown as more people look to add unique and nostalgic items to their collections. Whether it’s a vintage Life Savers tin or a modern-day package of the candy, Life Savers memorabilia continues to be a popular and collectible item among fans of the candy and pop culture enthusiasts alike.

Product Line Evolution

Life Savers candy has evolved over the years, with new varieties being introduced and some flavors and products being discontinued. Here are some of the notable changes in the product line:

Introduction of New Varieties

Over the years, Life Savers has introduced new flavors and varieties to cater to changing consumer tastes. In the 1930s, the company introduced the first fruit-flavored Life Savers, including cherry, orange, and lemon. In the 1950s, the company introduced the Butter Rum flavor, which became a popular variety. In the 1970s, the company introduced the Five Flavor roll, which included cherry, orange, pineapple, lime, and lemon flavors.

In the 2000s, the company introduced the Life Savers Gummies line, which included fruit-flavored gummy candies in various shapes and sizes. In 2003, the company introduced the Life Savers Sugar-Free line, which included sugar-free versions of classic flavors like Pep-O-Mint, Wint-O-Green, and Wild Cherry.

Discontinued Flavors and Products

Over the years, Life Savers has also discontinued some of its flavors and products. Some of the discontinued flavors include Clove, Licorice, and Cinnamon. In the 1980s, the company discontinued the Life Savers Holes, which were small, ring-shaped candies with a hole in the center. In the 2000s, the company discontinued the Life Savers Creme Savers line, which included creamy, fruit-flavored hard candies.

Despite the changes in the product line, Life Savers candy remains a beloved brand that has been enjoyed by generations of candy lovers.