Here's What Really Happened To Life Savers Holes

Whether you prefer mint or fruity, hard or gummy, Life Savers are one of the most ubiquitous candies in America. In the first quarter of 2022 YouGov America ranked Life Savers as number 55 on its list of most popular food brands, with a whopping 97% of the population being familiar with the iconic ring shaped candies, and 67% having a positive opinion on them.

Life Savers have been a staple of the American candy market since 1912 when chocolate maker Clarence Crane invented the original Pep-O-Mint variety after a trip to the pharmacy (via Mental Floss). They became a staple of soldier care packages during World War II, and over the years, the brand expanded to include Wint-O-Mint, multiple variations of fruit flavors, including the classic 5-flavor mix, and Butter Rum varieties, as well as Life Savers Gummies and two flavors of Creme Savers, orange and strawberry. 

But not all the experiments with this classic have been instant hits. In the 1990s, the same period when Creme Savers and Gummy Life Savers successfully hit the market, and these oddly soothing commercials were hypnotizing TV audiences, Life Savers launched another product which would not be long for this world: Life Savers Holes.

A hole lot of trouble for Life Savers

As Eat This, Not That notes, Life Savers Holes were essentially a candy version of the ever-popular doughnut hole, a small disc of hard candy which was the bi-product of making the iconic Life Savers rings. The holes were sold in small, plastic tubes with a flip top, which ultimately proved to be their downfall. A Chicago Tribune article from 1991 reported that the candies were recalled within a year of their debut after the plastic tube caps were deemed a choking hazard — an ironic development considering the ring design of original Life Savers was often falsely rumored to have been a choking prevention measure (per Mental Floss). Although no one was seriously injured, four children chewing on the caps had gagged on them and the company determined it needed to rethink the packaging.

Although Business Insider reports that the miniature candies did return to shelves four months after the recall with new, safer packaging, the damage had already been done and the product was soon discontinued, unlike its cousin, the Creme Saver, which was resurrected after a 10-year discontinuation in September 2021 (per Today). 

Currently, Gummy Life Savers, along with gummy versions of Skittles and Starbursts are being recalled due to the possibility of small metal pieces being embedded in the candies (via the FDA). Hopefully, the more well-established brand is able to recover and avoid the same fate as the Life Savers Hole or the purple M&M.