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.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Why a Readily Available Used Paperback Is Selling for Thousands of Dollars on Amazon
iStock
iStock

At first glance, getting ahold of a copy of One Snowy Knight, a historical romance novel by Deborah MacGillivray, isn't hard at all. You can get the book, which originally came out in 2009, for a few bucks on Amazon. And yet according to one seller, a used copy of the book is worth more than $2600. Why? As The New York Times reports, this price disparity has more to do with the marketing techniques of Amazon's third-party sellers than it does the market value of the book.

As of June 5, a copy of One Snowy Knight was listed by a third-party seller on Amazon for $2630.52. By the time the Times wrote about it on July 15, the price had jumped to $2800. That listing has since disappeared, but a seller called Supersonic Truck still has a used copy available for $1558.33 (plus shipping!). And it's not even a rare book—it was reprinted in July.

The Times found similar listings for secondhand books that cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than their market price. Those retailers might not even have the book on hand—but if someone is crazy enough to pay $1500 for a mass-market paperback that sells for only a few dollars elsewhere, that retailer can make a killing by simply snapping it up from somewhere else and passing it on to the chump who placed an order with them.

Not all the prices for used books on Amazon are so exorbitant, but many still defy conventional economic wisdom, offering used copies of books that are cheaper to buy new. You can get a new copy of the latest edition of One Snowy Knight for $16.99 from Amazon with Prime shipping, but there are third-party sellers asking $24 to $28 for used copies. If you're not careful, how much you pay can just depend on which listing you click first, thinking that there's not much difference in the price of used books. In the case of One Snowy Knight, there are different listings for different editions of the book, so you might not realize that there's a cheaper version available elsewhere on the site.

An Amazon product listing offers a mass-market paperback book for $1558.33.
Screenshot, Amazon

Even looking at reviews might not help you find the best listing for your money. People tend to buy products with the most reviews, rather than the best reviews, according to recent research, but the site is notorious for retailers gaming the system with fraudulent reviews to attract more buyers and make their way up the Amazon rankings. (There are now several services that will help you suss out whether the reviews on a product you're looking at are legitimate.)

For more on how Amazon's marketplace works—and why its listings can sometimes be misleading—we recommend listening to this episode of the podcast Reply All, which has a fascinating dive into the site's third-party seller system.

[h/t The New York Times]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios