Bad breath happens to even the best of us. Yep, at one point or another the majority of us will exhale an unpleasant odor into the atmosphere. Not only could this create an immediate schedule change for anyone who may be spending time with you, but perhaps a game of dodge ball will immediately begin (you being the ball to dodge) with the anyone in general and no one in particular. Surely with a case of bad breath, anyone within a five-foot radius will strategize an action plan to avoid your odorous emissions. There is always the chance that someone may throw you a lifeline, a saver…that is a Life Saver candy! Maybe this individual has “been there” before. Maybe this person is your soul mate, or perhaps he or she is an environmentalist. Whoever the hero is, this gesture of courage and nobility would be impossible if it wasn’t for the leading Cleveland man, Clarence Crane, the inventor of the Life Saver.
Mr. Crane was a maple syrup producer turned chocolatier. After working with his father in Warren, Ohio at his maple sugar business, Clarence opened his own maple syrup company and soon thereafter became known as the largest maple syrup producer in the world! He sold the business in 1909 and moved to Cleveland where he began making candies, chocolate candies to be exact. And he made lots of chocolate candies. (His business grew nationwide, making him very successful by the time of his death in 1931). But because chocolate melts at higher temperatures, this was the pre-air-conditioning era, sales in the summertime slumped.
Crane set out to father a “summer candy,” a mint…something that would withstand the heat. (Back in the day, almost all mints were shipped over from Europe and were square in shape.) The result was the Life Saver breath mint, which at the time of its sweet creation only came in the flavor of peppermint. They were called “Crane’s Peppermint Life Savers.” Yet, one thing was sure…they resembled life preservers. The packaging claimed that the mints were “For That Stormy Breath,” and were originally packed in cardboard tubes with an image of a sailor throwing a life preserver to a young woman. The genesis of the life preserver had just been introduced for floatation devices following the horrible 1912 Titanic catastrophe.
In 1913, Clarence sold his “formula” and the rights of his Life Savers candy to a gentleman by the name of Edward Noble for $2,900. The mints were then packaged in the recognizable foiled candy tube that we are familiar with today. In 1929 the fruit flavors were introduced, and since then the candy has ascended to its iconic standing around planet Earth. As Life Savers have maintained sweet dominance within the American candy culture, the phenomenon has grown to include an assortment of flavors, a mixture of gummies, sours, mints, and the larger pieces because “larger pieces mean more enjoyment.”
Next time you’re approached by someone offering you a Life Saver, take this toothsome confection without hesitation. Whether you’re looking for some fun and excitement (eating a Wint-O-Green Life Saver in the dark, which creates bright sparks!) or out to save the world one bad breather at a time, remember Cleveland sweetie Mr. Clarence Crane…and thank him for throwing you a breath preserver…a.k.a., the Life Saver.
Mr. Crane’s cottage still stands today in Chagrin Falls. It is now where The Inn of Chagrin is located, next to Gamekeepers.