1000042890Back in 1935, Life Savers™️ started a new, truly iconic product: Five Flavor. If one lines up colors in this pattern and puts white words over it, most people in the United States, Canada, or Mexico would realize the resulting design was intended to evoke Life Savers. In 1951, Five Flavors was the best seller (Modern).

So why the flavor change?

1000042976Life Savers created Five Flavors over 20 years before the Beech-Nut merger. And oddly, creating this product eventually put the kibosh on the individual rolls of Lemon, Lime, Orange ↪️ (photo courtesy of Acadian Antiques), and Pineapple, at least for the United States audience. (Wild Cherry rolls, of course, continued in the US line for decades.) Canada continued to produce individual flavor rolls for a bit longer.

🆕 The flavors for the initial Five Flavor set were designed by iconic flavorists Frederick Henry Leonhardt at Fritzsche Brothers--more details are in Life Savers™️ recipe (more or less).

This begs the question: How and why did artificial flavors enter the mix? This is from a reproduced copy of World War II Life Savers:

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I like the use of "true" as opposed to "natural" flavors. The only World War II Life Savers I've seen were in single color generic wrappers. These were used for rations. So I'd be curious to see the original they used to reproduce (Verlagkopf.com).

It wasn't until 2003 that Kraft Foods North America decided to shake things up a bit on the Five Flavor front. There are plenty of articles about this transition. I, for one, was in favor of the change--no longer would I have to give away the Lime candies, as I had done my whole life.

This grid demonstrates the changes in flavor lineup:


NOTE: At the time this blog article was written, most of those flavors (except Blackberry, Lemon, Lime and Orange) are available in the 14.5 oz sharing size. So the 3 contenders--Mango Melon, Tangerine and Green Apple from back in 2003 made it into the mix 20 years later. Plus, Fruit Punch, Grape and Strawberry have been added.


Here are some pictures of the Five/5 Flavor rolls through the last 25+ years.

This 1988 Nabisco Brands USA roll is in the larger 14 candies, 1.12 oz. package. I purchased it in college, while I was studying to become an interior designer. These were made in the United States (probably in the New York production site).


This Nabisco roll, some time between 1988 and 1999, demonstrates their new logo. This roll is also the smaller size, 11 candies and 0.90 oz. Again, the candies were made in America.


These 2 rolls represent blackberry, raspberry and watermelon joining pineapple and cherry in the lineup in 2003. Notice how the packaging says "New Flavors," yet does not specify what flavors. The citrus flavors orange, lime, and lemon no longer made the cut. Kraft Foods North America, Inc. made the changes after having acquired a considerable amount of consumer input in the form of voting. The left package came in the 14 candies, 1.12 oz. size; the right is in the 11 candies, 0.90 oz. size. While they have changed the flavors, they have retained the stripes and Nabisco 's more recent logo change. But they have changed the name from Five Flavor to 5 Flavor. And oddly, despite having changed 3 out of 5 of the flavors, the coloring ingredients have not changed: Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1. These candies were made in Canada.


1000043391These 2 Wm. Wrigley, Jr. rolls (in Chicago, IL) were purchased somewhere between 2004-2007. Note that the flavors are being listed again, and that blackberry had been booted. Apparently too many customers really missed that orange!  Both rolls were made in Mexico.

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As the ownership of the Life Savers brand in America moved from Wm. Wrigley Jr. to Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC, the label of the rolls remained largely the same, including the graphics, UPC and the fact that the candies were made in Mexico. The location of the company is listed as Hackettstown, New Jersey. For nutritional information, people are directed to a toll-free number (versus told to write to the company). A final change is that the package indicates Life Savers are made with "bioengineered food ingredients."




"Packaging's Hall of Fame: Life Savers," Modern Packaging 1951-12: Volume 25, Issue 4. Digitized from IA1643112-05. pp. 92-98, 180-185. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/sim_modern-packaging_1951-12_25_4/page/180/mode/1up?q=Life+savers+candy

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Use of Life Savers™️ is a trademarked name, held by the current holder of the product (which has varied through the years).

Photos in Orange Life Savers college, courtesy of Acadian Antiques, ©️2014. Used with permission.

All pictures not noted otherwise are ©️ by Karen Smith-Will and may not be used without written permission.