Halloween Candy Made Here: Lifesavers

Spiffy old Spear-O-Mint Lifesavers wrapper, c. 1940. Photo by JasonLiebig; courtesy flickr.com.

These hard, lifebuoy-like candies were once pushed on the diner circuit, where waitresses were told to make sure customers had a nickel in their change so they could get one to go at the counter. And for more than 60 years, until 1985, they were produced a mere half hour from Manhattan, in my hometown, in fact — Port Chester, NY. The old Lifesaver factory (now condos, of course) once was a place for roaming teens to hang, preferably over one of the large-scale, neon Lifesaver replicas around the base of the building.

But life-size — that is, very tiny — they’re best peeled away from their tin-foil wrapper and popped in your mouth. It started with the Pep-O-Mint flavor in 1912 and grew to the now-classic five-flavor roll in 1935. They may not be as popular among trick-or-treaters these days, but the “candy with the hole” might save a sore, post-Halloween throat in the morning. Ya know, for when that fourth Pumpkin Vodkatini starts to feel like a really bad idea, even if it was made with a local gourd.

This week, we’re looking at some classic Halloween candies with a New York past. After researching 40+ candies — alive and dead — we were saddened to learn we have no stake on Baby Ruth or the 5th Avenue bar, but we think we’ve found some goodies that’ll keep you in local spirits this season.

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