Biting The Life Saver

Barely ten seconds pass after placing a Life Saver [1] in your mouth before the desire to bite it onsets. This is the central issue embedded in the process of eating any sort of hard of hard candy, but with Life Savers it seems almost unavoidable. Because of this, eating a Life Saver is oftentimes a struggle between your most basic desires to consume and to conserve. That is why Life Savers are important.

A typical tube of Life Savers comes with fourteen candies ranging in flavor from cherry and raspberry to Pep O Mint and Wint O Green. But the flavors here aren’t all that important. What’s key is that the structural integrity of a Life Saver is designed as such so that it is nearly impossible to let them dissolve in your mouth [2]. Once the package is opened, and the foil is torn off the first sweet circlet, all bets are off. The consumer becomes ravaged, placing one candy after another on her tongue and crushing them with little deliberation and much impatience. Before long, one Life Saver has become thirteen. And then — they are all gone.

To describe the process of eating a Life Saver, then, is to provide a case study on the nature of indulgence and self-denial. Sure, placing one in your mouth is pleasurable, but biting — biting is where the real enjoyment lies. What is clear is that the process of eating a Life Saver can, if left unchecked, become the candy equivalent to chain smoking. It becomes an addiction, albeit one whose duration lasts only as long as it takes to consume the entire package. After that, a strange sort of satisfaction often takes hold. We’ve done good work.

But consider how different the process would be of we did the complete opposite. Rather than gnash through an entire package of Life Savers, what if we slowed down the whole process of consumption? By resisting the urge to bite the Life Saver, we learn what it means to have exactly we want and take ten steps back from it.

Of course, there is a heart-breaking sort of irony involved in consuming quickly a candy whose name implies salvation. Life Savers are created in order to be destroyed. But it is in those moments when the amylase in your saliva is slowly dissolving the sugary rings into progressively thinner discs that we come to the truth: Life Savers can’t save themselves, but they can save you.

They do this by reminding you that one day you, too, will dissolve into nothingness. Time will be your enzyme, and it will break you down gradually and without spite. By the end you will be thin and brittle, drenched with the saliva of existence and begging to be swallowed into the void of the Beyond.

That sounds bad, but it actually isn’t. Because amidst the slow degradation of your body you’ll come to a few conclusions about how life tends to work. One: it is far better to be a dissolved Life Saver than a crunched one. This should be clear, judging simply by our seemingly innate human desire to want to live as long as possible.

But the second lesson embedded in the Life Saver is more important. In the trademarked and infinitely commercialized name “Life Savers” there exists a not-so-subtle homophone-based reminder of the best way to live: Life, Savored. [3] It’s not exactly an imperative – but it’s close. And it’s by understanding lesson two in tandem with lesson one that we draw near to what I’ll call Crane’s Rule For Living: Life is good when it’s long, but better when it’s savored. TC mark

image – Andrew Magill


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  • jessucka

    “They do this by reminding you that one day you, too, will dissolve into nothingness. Time will be your enzyme, and it will break you down gradually and without spite. By the end you will be thin and brittle, drenched with the saliva of existence and begging to be swallowed into the void of the Beyond. “

    this was unexpected and lovely.

  • federico

    i am proud of you

  • lauren

    This was wonderful. You wrote it well and took it in a direction that was unexpected but appropriate. Two internet points for you!

  • Justathought

    It's quite likely that my mind imagined this, or more realistically someone made it up and told me and I believed them, but weren't lifesavers called “lifesavers” because if you got overexcited at the consumption stage and accidentally inhaled the glistening, cherry halo, firmly lodging the candy in your throat with a single gasp, the hole in the middle would allow enough air to pass through for you to maintain consciousness until further action was taken therefore 'saving your life'….. theoretically.. (according to a candy company)…

    So not only do they teach you to 'savour life', but they literally 'saveyour life too'.

    • LitNit

      From wiki: “In 1912, candy manufacturer Clarence Crane of Cleveland, Ohio,[1] invented Life Savers as a “summer candy” that could withstand heat better than chocolate. The candy's name is derived from its similarity to the shape of lifebuoys used for saving people who have fallen off of boats. The name has also inspired an urban legend that Crane invented the candy to prevent children from choking, due to his own child having choked on a hard candy.[2]”

  • natural

    It is a piece of candy. Get a grip.

    • Nick

      Are you, like, serious?

      • Reallyyyydude

        are you?

      • Briana

        are you?

  • Joseph Piccininni, Jr.

    When I think about severe hard-candy-biting (because I often do) , I factor in my anxiety level. Surely, If I am anxious about something, biting a LS becomes almost second nature – one is much more likely to bite down on something to relieve stress. Try it – next time you are anxious and just happen to have a life saver in your pocket, try to keep it in your mouth as long as possible.

    Very enlightening post.

  • Reallyyyydude

    Kind of Perks of Being of Being a Wallflower-y. Maybe try not to sound like a hipster teenager. I know that's hard because this is Thought Catalog, but I'm sure you have it in you.

  • Long Ouyang

    Apparently the perfect length for an extended metaphor is 8 paragraphs. Well done.

  • Alex Keen

    Thanks for making flavoured sugar into an existential metaphor for me. Now I'll feel momentarily guilty every time I catch myself crunching a hard candy.

  • Tim

    Well I liked it

  • Greg Petliski

    This is the most retarded article I've ever read. Fuck you.

  • Noah Tourjee

    Hm. Undeserved negative response. This is charming. I am a little concerned about your sugar intake however, please e-mail me.

  • JT

    I think we need Mr. Owl's Take on all of this:

  • RamonaCC

    Once in elementary school my class took a week long field trip to a place called “Nature's Classroom” which was a sort of camp where we did crafts and dissected frogs. One night our group leader waited until it got really dark and took us out to a large opening in the woods. We sat down in a circle and she passed around a pack of Life Saver's with the mint specks in them (I can't remember the exact name) and told us to chew them with our mouths open. I assume we were all a little confused and maybe a little scared of the dark but then we all started chewing and every time we bit down our mouths filled with tiny sparks. I remember that it was so dark that night that all we saw when we looked around were those sparks. It was so quiet that we didn't even want to laugh, we were a bunch of ten-year-old kids sitting perfectly still in the pitch black chewing pack after pack of Mint Life Savers. It was like magic. Still have a soft spot for those candies.

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