Thursday, May 17, 2007


imageThe story of how LifeSavers were created is one of those classic happy accidents. They came about in 1912 when Clarence Crane was looking for a candy to sell in the summer when chocolate was difficult to store. He concieved of a hard mint and engaged a pill manufacturer to make them for him. They found that the candies were easier to make if they were donut shaped and thus the candy and name Lifesavers was born.

The Five Flavor LifeSavers are not a compressed dextrose candy, instead they’re a boiled sugar candy. While the Pep-O-Mint was going strong, the fruit flavored versions were introduced in 1924 as simple hard candy disks. In 1929 technology caught up with demand and LifeSavers got their holes. The original fruit roll was all citrus - Lemon, Lime and Orange. In 1935 they became the Five Flavor Roll with Cherry and Pineapple joining the mix. And that’s how it was until 2003.

Then the internet mucked it all up. Wrigley’s, who now owns LifeSavers, decided to change up the flavors in the roll because they thought that the old flavors were hurting sales. So they let voters add their voice at their website. I think this was their first mistake. First, you could only vote for the flavors on their list. Second, they were only polling those people who visited their site ... I’m sure the great majority of LifeSavers consumers do not visit, which appears to be designed for kids.

imageBut I digress. Or ramble. And will continue to ... this is just one of those posts.

I had a yard sale over the weekend and my neighbor Robin brought some stuff over, which included a bunch of stuff from her desk that included a roll of LifeSavers. I, of course, wanted them. They looked like the original flavors (you can tell because it doesn’t have the purple stripe) but I wasn’t sure because it listed

I took them up to the Candy Blog labs for a look and found that they were in fact the original Five Flavor roll (the ones pictured above, not here to the left). They were not in great condition, as hard candies often get milky looking after about three years. But there they were, the original Five Flavors: Orange, Lemon, Cherry, Pineapple and Lime. They were stuck together and stood up easily for the photo. The package also spells out the word Five, and important distinction.

The new roll heralds that it has NEW FLAVORS! though it makes no mention of what they are. I understand not mentioning the flavors on the old roll, they’d been around since 1935 ... LifeSavers, a part of living.

The new roll also saves copoius amounts of ink by calling itself 5 Flavors, thus saving on those icky and expensive letters.

The flavors, in case you’re wondering are: Pineapple, Blackberry, Cherry, Watermelon & Orange. (This article points out that Orange was dropped in ‘03 in favor of Blackberry, but it appears it was quietly restored ... or maybe that’s the new flavor they’re talking about on the package.) It could also be because Nabisco sold LifeSavers to Wrigley’s in 2004.

Raspberry is good, nice and fruity with a good wine robustness. Watermelon is nice, fruity and floral. And of course the original pineapple is a glorious song that I hope will never end, orange is dependable and citrusy and cherry continues to be the epitome of medicinal-tasting candy. The old flavor set held one candy I would always give away ... the new one has three I don’t care for. I can’t just buy a LifeSavers 5 Flavor roll for orange and pineapple.

The saddest part of the whole LifeSavers story is that they stopped making the single flavor rolls that I loved so much. Tangerine was simply marvelous. More juicy, more zesty and more tangy that the simple orange, I could eat a whole roll in one sitting, no matter how long I was sitting down. While I might complain at the loss of flavors, I do have to applaud them for putting more in a roll. (I believe the old rolls used to hold 12 candies, the newer ones hold 14.) I might have to switch to Tropical Fruit as my go-to roll ... I wonder how much they’ve mucked that up lately.

Note: LifeSavers are now made in Canada. They also don’t have those little green strings that help you start a roll anymore.

UPDATE 2008: LifeSavers are now: Watermelon, Pineapple, Cherry, Raspberry, Orange ... so blackberry is now raspberry but pretty much looks the same.

Name: LifeSavers Five Flavors & 5 Flavors
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Wrigley's
Place Purchased: 7-11 (Hollywood)
Price: $.89
Size: 1.14 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Hard Candy, Canada, Wrigley, Discontinued

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:56 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. i am so out of the candy loop! my fav memories with lifesavers was passing out any non-pineapple flavored lifesavers to my friends so i could savor the ‘best’ flavor…. *tear* goodbye childhood memories of sticky hands and sugar high summers… okay it’s not THAT bad but no more lifesavers for me. boo. hoo.

    Comment by Sunny on 5/17/07 at 7:19 am #
  2. I miss the old Lifesavers.  I really liked Lime and Lemon.  I got a roll of the new ones out of the vending machine one day.  I had to spit out Blackberry.  To me, it was just hideous.

    Why do they mess with classics?

    Comment by Cat Skyfire on 5/17/07 at 7:21 am #
  3. Those are BEAUTIFUL photographs, perhaps the nicest ones I’ve ever seen you take!!!

    Comment by Erin on 5/17/07 at 7:23 am #
  4. Sunny - no worries, Pineapple is still there! Just lots more to give away to other folks. But don’t give the Blackberry to Cat, she’ll spit it out on you.

    Cat - I really did like their lime ... well, not the one pictured above, it was kind of chewy.

    Erin - haha! Thanks for the compliment, even though I photographed very old candy ...

    Comment by cybele on 5/17/07 at 7:55 am #
  5. Good to know that if I come across any old candy I should send it out to you. It could be a featured item.

    (I’m with you on the pineapple and tangerine. First Reed’s, now this! When will it end?)

    Comment by Amy on 5/17/07 at 8:08 am #
  6. Why does everyone seem to think people would rather have [gross, disgusting] WATERMELON over other “red” (or in this case- green?) flavours??? I am so sick of watermelon candy. I’d take medicinal cherry or kitchen cleaner lime and yes maybe even strawberry over watermelon any day. Blackberry sounded exciting to me, but you later described it as raspberry (another artificial flavour I can’t stand)- I’m curious which it actually is… Blackberry I’d be willing to give a try.

    They’ve ruined a classic, for shame! Why can’t we just have the good old fashioned flavours back? Citrus is perfect for candies like this.

    And since I’m ranting- what is with candies trading out lime (a classic!!) for CANDY APPLE? Man, green apple candy is even more overpowering than GRAPE. (For instance- Sprees- lime lends itself perfectly to these candies, but instead they have green apple. Gross.)

    Sorry, I know that everyones taste buds are different. But I haven’t had a place to discuss these very important issues until I found your blog :D

    Thanks for your pretty pictures- I have to admit, I kind of like the way the look when they are milky. Also- whatever happened to Life Saver holes? Those were a big hit among me and my middle school friends in the early 90s.

    Comment by Gwen on 5/17/07 at 9:15 am #
  7. oops, i apologize… i just tried to post a comment, and i let myself get overly verbose and when i hit “submit” it told me it thought i was spam and that my comment would be moderated first.

    you don’t need to post it, it’s far too long. mostly i just wanted to say i miss the original life savers flavours, and wonder what happened to life savers holes.

    Comment by Gwen on 5/17/07 at 9:21 am #
  8. Shame on them for ruining a classic. I have such find memories as a kid enjoying ALL the flavors of the Five Flavor Roll. Pineapple is definately the best, orange in second. Is there any way we could write and complain?

    I want to know Cybele, did you eat the original roll? wink

    Comment by Sera on 5/17/07 at 9:52 am #
  9. No little green strings?  Oh, that’s just wrong. 

    My parents were not candy people when I was growing up, but somehow there were always Lifesavers kicking around—in my mom’s purse, in my dad’s desk drawer, the car glove compartment.  Do you remember those “books” they used to sell at Christmas time, with a bunch of different rolls in them?  I’d always get one as a present, and then my Mom would stock up on more of them at post Christmas sales.

    Aw, Cybele, now you’ve got me waxing all nostalgic…

    Comment by good enough cook on 5/17/07 at 9:58 am #
  10. The best part of a Five Flavor roll was crunching your way through the first few until you got to THE GREEN ONE.  I loved the green one!  Lime!  Green is lime!

    I can’t abide by the fact that THE GREEN ONE is now watermelon.  Ugh, it’s foul.  So, so wrong!

    Comment by Michaela on 5/17/07 at 11:40 am #
  11. I had to comment on this one…I LOVED the tangerine! It was like a compulsion to eat every last one, and they were so tasty…It’s even hard now to find the tropicals…and I also miss the gummy savers in wacky fruit flavor…sigh

    Comment by Deanna (domestic chicky) on 5/17/07 at 12:13 pm #
  12. haha i noticed the original roll’s stack is superstraight while the new roll’s stack is kind of wobbly. did you stack the new ones yourself?
    pineapple and lemon were my favorites ):

    Comment by Emily on 5/17/07 at 6:10 pm #
  13. Oh, those tangerine LifeSavers were a beautiful thing.

    Comment by patti on 5/18/07 at 3:15 am #
  14. Here’s another vote for tangerine. Possibly the best citrus candy flavor ever. I also loved cinnamon. It came in a beige wrapper and was a softer, white LifeSavers. I would eat a roll in one sitting. They were just yummy.

    Comment by jenreads on 5/18/07 at 5:10 am #
  15. My favorite LifeSavers ever were the pressed dextrose CinnOmon. They were definitely different from cinnamon boiled candies.

    I’m not opposed to the blackberry, as it was in the WildBerry pack that I liked. But I have to agree with everyone else, watermelon or green apple are an abomination and should never, ever be substituted for lime!

    Comment by Kim on 5/18/07 at 5:16 am #

    I have seen these at walmart and a few other places.  Each bag has 13 flavors.

    Comment by ann on 5/18/07 at 2:55 pm #
  17. I love these photos- so simple but creative at the same time. nice work.

    and butter rum- simply the best

    Comment by liz on 5/18/07 at 6:14 pm #
  18. nice and thorough piece! butter rum IS the best flavor.

    Comment by Cybelesays on 5/21/07 at 10:58 am #
  19. I want to protest and bring the old flavors back, I havent had a good life savers in years, I miss those candies, they were my moms fav, the new ones sux like every other new candie out there

    Comment by Taylor Sam on 5/24/07 at 4:27 pm #
  20. are you kidding me?! you can’t change life savers.
    what about the christmas story books!?

    Comment by aid on 5/25/07 at 5:42 pm #
  21. So I don’t eat lifesavers ever, but I was just down in our office’s little convenience store and noticed that Canadian five-flavour roles still have the original flavours AND that we still have single-flavour roles (although I didn’t see any tangerine, there were some butter rum).  I guess they thought the new flavours would be just way to much for our simple Canadian sensibilities… hahaha!

    Comment by Jessica on 6/01/07 at 10:58 am #
  22. Man, I loved the Cinnamon livesavers. They were so good.They came in a beige pack and were white. Does anyone have any idea where I could find them?

    Comment by Nadalie on 7/29/07 at 10:34 am #
  23. I loved the tangerines too!

    Comment by Sally on 8/20/07 at 8:58 am #
  24. Get your story straight. Wrigley did not buy LifeSavers and Altoids Brands until June of 2005. Kraft owned LifeSavers when the change was made to the five flavors roll.

    Comment by Paul on 8/21/07 at 7:47 am #
  25. Cybele's avatar

    Paul - thanks for the correction. I emailed Wrigley’s for more information and they were not much help. Did you like the old flavor selection or do you prefer the new one?

    Comment by Cybele on 8/21/07 at 3:41 pm #
  26. hey Cybele- so nice that you follow the comments on your awesome blog.  But where’s the review of my all time favorite candy Rowntree’s Pastilles, available from yahoo?  Once a year I go through a major indulgence and eat about a dozen rolls in a week. I think it’s the supreme gummy candy…

    Comment by Sally on 8/21/07 at 4:34 pm #
  27. Cybele's avatar

    Sally - I tried something called Fruitips from Nestle, which might be similar, but never did a full review.

    They were made in Asia ... maybe they’re the same thing with a different name?

    I’m hoping to check in on a Brit import store about an hour south of me when I’m in the area next, probably in a couple of weeks. I’ll put it on my list of things to see if they have (otherwise I’ll head to the internet).

    Comment by Cybele on 8/22/07 at 4:42 pm #
  28. Thanks for your response, Cybele.  I’d noticed the fruitips.  (I spent hungry hours reading your blog this week!)  Here’s where I got the Rowntree’s:

    I wrote about your blog here:
    don’t know why, but the lightning bug candy image keeps disappearing from the post.


    Comment by Sally on 8/23/07 at 5:41 am #
  29. I really miss lime.  My family used to get Lifesavers frequently but ever since it changed I think we got it twice.  I want LIME.  I miss LIME.  I always wanted a whole LIME role.  Cherry is great and they made a Cherry role, but no longer… And that Tangerine, I forgot all about that.  That was great too.  I have never liked Watermelon or Green Apple, I don’t understand either why LIME keeps getting replaced.  I guess it helps me not eat candy…

    Comment by Jonathan on 8/25/07 at 10:17 pm #
  30. What order were the original lifesavers in.  and how many of each flavor did you get

    Comment by Brittney on 8/29/07 at 3:30 pm #
  31. this is awesome! I need this information for science class and couldnt find it anywhere else!THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!!



    Comment by Malia on 8/31/07 at 8:55 am #
  32. I am looking for a roll ofof nothing but tangerine life savers can any one help me?!?!?!?

    Comment by Brittany on 9/19/07 at 12:25 pm #
  33. My favorite flavor of Lifesavors was the Fancy Fruits.  They had a pear flavor, a blackberry, a raspberry, and I don’t recall the other flavors, but they were the best.

    And the ButterMint flavor was like a hard candy version of those little pastel melt-a-way buttermints you get at weddings.  Yum!!!

    Is anyone old enough to remember the displays of rolls and rolls of Lifesavers??  Every flavor they had available out there for the choosing.  Gosh I miss that.

    Comment by Kristie B on 9/27/07 at 3:42 pm #
  34. Kristie B, I remember the Fancy Fruits, and the ButterMint too.  Major yumz!

    Comment by Sally on 9/27/07 at 3:45 pm #
  35. Hey Sally,

    I am so glad to find someone outside of my family that remembers those flavors!!!  Everyone else just looks at me blankly.

    Comment by Kristie B on 9/27/07 at 4:10 pm #
  36. I’ve recently started looking for the all tangerine, the tropical fruits and the fancy fruits rolls.  Butter rum was good too.  My grandma always had those flavors for me and I would really like to purchase some.  So, do we have to go to Canada?

    Comment by Wendy on 12/05/07 at 8:23 am #
  37. Does anyone else remember the Stik-O-Pep Life Savers?  They were one of my favorites as a kid. I discovered a few years ago that they had brought them back at Christmas time individually
    wrapped in bags and called them ‘Candy Cane’ Life Savers.  I gambled and bought a bag, and sure enough it was the old Stik-O-Pep.  I went back and bought all they had that year and have bought
    enough at Christmas every year to last until the next year.  Now it looks as if they have done it to me again.  I guess what surprised me the most was that when they hit the shelf in stores here,
    you better buy them quick or they would be gone.  My guess would be that they will never be seen or available again.  Just another great marketing decision….not.

    Comment by Don L. on 12/11/07 at 1:11 pm #
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