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10 Things You Might Not Know about Life Savers

Life Savers—those sweet, unmistakable rolls of hard candies with the hole in the center—have been a quintessential American candy since the early 1900s. And after more than 100 years, Life Savers remains one of the leading candy brands in America.

1. ITS CREATOR BEGAN WITH A MAPLE SUGAR BUSINESS BEFORE MOVING INTO CHOCOLATES AND CANDY.

Clarence Crane was the son of a maple sugar producer in Cleveland, Ohio. He worked with his father until 1903, when he struck out with his own maple sugar business, which became one of the largest producers of maple sugar in the world. In 1909 Crane sold the maple sugar business but continued to work for the company as a salesman. Two years later, he opened the Queen Victoria Chocolate Company and began to produce chocolates.

2. LIFE SAVERS WERE INSPIRED BY A VISIT TO THE PHARMACIST.

Crane soon realized that his chocolate sales suffered during the summer months because the chocolates would melt quickly in the heat. In 1912 he began experimenting with various hard candy formulas. During a trip to buy flavoring extracts at the pharmacy, he noticed their pill making machine. It produced round, flat pills, and Crane determined this machine could be used to create flat, round, summertime peppermints—a novel idea at the time since most mints were square-shaped and imported.

3. THAT HOLE IN THE CENTER ISN'T GOING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.

A 1917 ad. Public Domain

There is an urban legend that Crane’s child tragically died by choking on a mint, and that this tragedy forced him to create the hole in the center so that if the candy was lodged in your throat, you could still breathe. Hence, the name Life Savers! This tale is far from true—Crane actually wanted to differentiate his mints from the popular European mints of the time, and the name was inspired by the candy resembling the life preservers used on boats.

As for Crane's child, his only son, the poet Hart Crane, did unfortunately die at sea in 1932. On a voyage to New York, he jumped overboard in the Gulf of Mexico and his body was never recovered.

4. CRANE PLAYED UP THE NAUTICAL IMAGERY FOR HIS ORIGINAL LIFE SAVERS.

Originally, Life Savers only came in peppermint flavor, and were marketed as Pep-O-Mint Life Savers. Crane came up with the slogan "For that stormy breath" to sell his new breath mints.

5. JUST ONE YEAR AFTER CREATING LIFE SAVERS, CRANE SOLD THE RIGHTS.

On an whim, businessman Edward J. Noble bought a roll of Life Savers and quickly approached Crane with ideas on expanding sales with new advertising schemes. Crane wasn’t interested, and instead he decided to sell the rights to Life Savers to Noble for $2900 in 1913. In the span of 12 years, Noble and business partner J. Roy Allen turned their investment into a $1.5 million corporation. One thing that helped? Noble replaced Crane's impractical cardboard packaging with a thinner tin (and later aluminum) foil roll that also kept the candies dry.

6. "STILL ONLY 5 CENTS" BECAME A KEY SLOGAN FOR LIFE SAVERS.

Noble made a number of innovative marketing moves in order to expand sales, including having his clients strategically place Life Savers next to the registers of restaurants, saloons, and grocery stores, and training his clients to always provide a nickel when giving change. With the rolls of breath mints sitting right there boasting that they were only 5 cents, and a newly received nickel in the hands of the customer, the candy practically sold itself. The low price-point continued as a selling point for decades as Life Savers started advertising their candies as "Still Only 5 Cents!"

7. DURING WWII, LIFE SAVERS REMINDED THE TROOPS OF HOME.

The Armed Forces packed some 23 million boxes' worth of Life Savers into soldiers’ ration kits as a sweet taste of home. To keep the mints in high production during this period, other candy manufacturers donated their sugar rations to the company.

8. THE FIVE-FLAVOR ROLL HAS ONLY HAD MINIMAL CHANGES OVER THE YEARS.

The original fruity flavors—lemon, lime, orange, cherry, and pineapple—were introduced in 1935 and remained untouched for almost 70 years. In 2003, Life Savers altered their five-flavor roll by replacing lemon and lime with raspberry and watermelon. Life Savers had also swapped out orange for blackberry, but the change was short-lived. More than two million people had voted for the flavor swaps in an online poll, but poor blackberry turned out to be an unwanted addition. Orange was quickly added back to the lineup.

9. BLACKBERRY WASN'T THE ONLY FLAVOR TO FLOP.

Life Savers has introduced quite a number of flavors, minty and otherwise, over the years, from Cl-O-ve and Cinn-O-mon to the ever-popular Butter Rum. But in 1920, Life Savers rolled out Malt-O-Milk, which defeats the purpose of having a candy that either freshens your breath or provides a fruity pick-me-up. The flavor was discontinued within a couple of years.

10. LIFE SAVERS SOLD AS PART OF A NEARLY $1.5 BILLION DEAL IN 2004.

As part of a package with Altoids, Kraft Foods sold Life Savers to the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company for nearly $1.5 billion. Not bad for little mint company that was originally purchased for less than $3000.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
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“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Tengi

Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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