Made in Chattanooga: Life Savers Mean Sweet Success for Wrigley
By: Latricia Thomas
A hard candy that's in high-demand across the country is pressed into the shape and smell we all recognize right here in Chattanooga. The Life Savers brand just celebrated their 100 year anniversary at their Jersey Pike facility, and we went inside the factory to show you how the candy that's heaped with history is made.
The first thing you notice about the local Wrigley plant is the sweet smell. "When I come in the gate or even on Jersey Pike," Plant Director Bruce Verburg says. "I can tell what we are making, wintergreen or peppermint. It puts a smile on your face when you come to work."
It's the same thing machinist Cheryl Lee loves about her job. "My grand-babies are like, 'Oh Granny you smell like candy today!'"
The minty candies, named for their resemblance to mini life preservers, come from sweet sugar that's ground and infused with flavor and colors. Then it's filtered into the pressing machine where it's squeezed into that recognizable iconic shape.
Cheryl's in charge of the press and making sure the pungent peppermints are perfection on the conveyer belt. "We're looking to make sure the candy comes out perfect," she says. "And that the candy says Life Saver mints and has the hole in it."
So that once they're wrapped and bagged, they're a point of pride on the store shelf. It's a reminder of a job well done today, as this local factory keeps growing. They recently expanded their workforce to 300 and added Gummie Life Saver production in 2005, to the same brand that's been cranking out this cool candy for 100 years. "During World War Two, everything was rationed," Verburg says. "So the other people who made treats gave sugar to Wrigley so they could make Life Savers and ship them to the troops so they could remember home.
It's not only the smell of Life Savers that escapes from the Wrigley facility. Next time, we'll take you back inside and show you how Altoids are made.
For more information about Wrigley and Life Savers, click here to visit their website.
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