Why, though? Life Savers Holes were great, but the packaging was not

Life Savers decided to sell the byproduct of its candy — the holes — separately, but was sunk by the packaging.

Donut holes? Great. Life Savers Holes? Also great, by all accounts.

A partially unrolled tube of Live Savers against a black-and-white swirl background.

So what went wrong? Teenagers, that’s what.

Life Savers…

… were invented in 1912 by chocolatier Clarence Crane, who needed something less melty to boost slumping summer sales.

He began using a pill manufacturing machine to make mints. Because it punched a hole in the middle that made the discs look like life preservers, he called them “Life Savers.”

Today, Life Savers is owned by Mars, which acquired it along with Wrigley in 2008.

OK, so what about the holes?

Holes came out in 1990 when RJR Nabisco owned the brand. The concept felt a no-brainer — selling a byproduct of the candy already being made.

Pixar made the candy’s adorable commercials, and the candy was popular. One nostalgic fan even recalls their unique and pleasant mouthfeel.


… there were four instances involving toddlers and teenagers who’d bitten off the tube’s plastic flip-top cap (about the size of a dime) and swallowed or gagged on it. None were injured, but RJR Nabisco recalled Holes in January 1991 to revamp its packaging.

By August 1991, Holes were back with a tangerine flavor.

One article praised Holes as a great choice for “calorie-conscious” consumers, with reporter Carolyn Wyman writing: “I think kids who are so stupid as to mistake a piece of plastic packaging for candy should go back to eating baby food — and not cause a reduction of choices in the candy aisle for the rest of us.”

Wow, Carolyn. Harsh.

But what sucks even more for Carolyn is that after all that work, Holes never regained its original popularity, disappearing from shelves forever and leaving a hole in our hearts.

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