A roll of Lifesavers hard candies was one of those things that was consistent throughout my childhood. Part of the allure was that they were so inexpensive relative to other candy on the rack, and often to a young child, more is just better. Lessons in quality over quantity would arrive at some point, but until then, the ability to load up on a bunch of Lifesavers versus one decent candy bar or any singular offering from Willy Wonka (Nerds, Runts, etc.) meant that I could enjoy my allowance money longer.
Another great thing about Lifesavers was that they came in all sorts of varieties of flavors, often with a theme. If the regular “Five Flavor” pack wasn’t exciting enough for you, you could choose the “tropical” assortment of fruit flavors, which were also very good, if a bit tart. If one was feeling especially grown up, one could go for a roll of Butter Rum or spearmint.
Most of the time, I was satisfied with the good, ol’, five-flavor pack that included pineapple, orange, lime, cherry, and lemon. This flavor lineup was consistent from 1925 all the way through 2003, when lime (along with fellow citrus fruits lemon and orange) were dropped and replaced with raspberry, watermelon, and blackberry. I guess I haven’t had a five-flavor pack of Lifesavers since at least 2003, but I’m baffled as to how the pineapple flavor somehow continued to make the cut. No offense to you if pineapple is your favorite, but… yeah, no. I’ve eaten worse-tasting candies than a pineapple Lifesavers, but in my opinion, this flavor just wasn’t up to par with the others. It reminded me of the “mystery flavor” of Dum Dum suckers that was basically all the leftover flavors combined in one big vat, or something. Not bad, but not the best.
I loved the lime-flavored rings, though, the color of which I was reminded when I spotted this ’72 Corvette in factory Elkhart Green while running errands in my neighborhood on a Saturday morning. In my mind, green is synonymous with summer. I love the smell of freshly cut grass and walking beneath a canopy of the lush leaves of the towering trees in this area. A local farmers’ market sells fresh produce on Tuesdays. Green is also the color of getting paid. These are all great things. The removable roof panels of our featured car were off, which added to the warm weather ambiance of the warmest, most celebratory season of them all. I’m going with ’72 as the model year of this example given the amber turn signals up front, which would also be the very last year of Corvette to feature chrome bumpers both fore and aft.
The thing about Lifesavers, though, was once you unwrapped one of the ends of the pack and slowly tore a coil-like sliver of the wrapper away to get to each, successive piece of candy underneath, there was no way to adequately seal the open end back up. Going about your day with a half-eaten roll of Livesavers in your pocket would invariably lead to linty candy, the first one of which you’d have to either chuck out or eat with whatever had stuck to it from inside your pocket. Hence, my metaphor du jour: This ’72 Corvette reminded me of a lime Lifesavers candy. It was a big, bright green pleasure machine (thank you Simon & Garfunkel) in a very tasty, summery shade, built to be enjoyed with the t-tops stored away on a warm day. Its sweet lines and curves made it seem very much like a rolling confection – a delicacy shipped to you by Chevrolet all the way from St. Louis, Missourah, as my grandmother used to pronounce it.
It brought me joy just to look at it. Its metallic paint caught the light in such a way that the surface of its compound curves looked like spun sugar. Its Chevy Rally Wheels are another round, iconic object like Lifesavers. Approaching this car more closely, however, there were telltale signs that this C3’s “wrapper” had been open for a little while. Granted, there was nothing really wrong with it, and its owner should rightfully be proud. I would certainly rock with this car. Nice C3s, especially examples from before the chrome bumpers disappeared, are getting only thinner on the ground. This piece of lime-flavored automotive candy had some lint stuck to it, as a trailer queen it was not. Never mind the not-quite-crystalline resolution of these photos, as I had only my phone with me at the time and not my actual camera. The paint wasn’t quite as shiny as it might have been, and even the “Stingray” badge on the front fender appeared to have melted just a bit.
The horsepower rating for the base 350 cubic inch V8 offered for ’72 was down to 200 versus the 270 number for ’71, but this was mostly due to ratings now being reported in net figures versus gross. The LT-1 version of the 350 (four-barrel carburetor, higher compression ratio, and solid lifters) had 255 horses, and a 454 big-block was still available (through ’74) with 270 horsepower. Corvette sales for ’72 were up by almost 24% over the prior year, at close to 27,000 units, the bulk of which (about 20,500) were coupes. About 6,500 convertibles were sold, but for my money, I’d have been tempted to go with the coupe since the roof panels came off. Curiously, the factory theft deterrent system became standard equipment that year. For as many car crash movies I’ve seen where a C3 got stolen as the prelude to a chase (1977’s Speed Trap comes to mind), this doesn’t surprise me one bit.
Third generation Corvettes have remained one of my favorite topics to write about during over six years of my tenure here at Curbside Classic, with this one being the second so far in 2022. This is not just because it was the great, American sports car when I was a car-crazy kid, but because they were in production forever and plentiful as a result. At one time, the C3 was as ubiquitous as a roll of Lifesavers candy at the local convenience mart or grocery store checkout line.
Even if a pack of Lifesavers was cheap and cheerful, I was still that kid who would attempt to prolong my enjoyment of them by trying to save some for later, resulting in candy that sometimes ended up looking like an insect trap. Like this Corvette and so many other things about summer, hard candy is meant to be enjoyed and doesn’t necessarily need to be kept pristine in its wax paper wrapper. I forgive this ’72 Corvette for its minor cosmetic faults for just this reason. The consistently warm weather has finally arrived, the t-tops were off on this Saturday morning, and the time was right for a little extra summery green.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, June 18, 2022.