From the Oddball Files – Australia’s LifeSavers Musk flavor.

Ah, flavor… it’s a funny thing, especially where candy is concerned.   What one person finds delicious, another finds awful.   I don’t spend too much time discussing the flavors of candy, as that’s not what the focus on this site is about, but today’s article requires that I do.

Flavor preferences can diversify quite a bit when you travel around the world.  I recently had a friend explain that he’d offered a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to someone overseas, and the person he offered it to thought it tasted terrible.  To me, that’s crazy because Reese’s PB Cups are one of the most delicious treats ever.   But that illustrates that each culture has its own traditional flavors and palettes.

When I first started collecting candy packaging, one of the surprises I encountered was that in Australia, there was a flavor of LifeSavers I’d never heard of before, and one that I found particularly odd – Musk.

Australia - LifeSavers Musk candy roll - 1980's

It turns out that Musk is a traditional flavor of confection in Australia.  But to someone in the United States, it’s nothing short of exotic and weird.   As soon as I found out about Musk LifeSavers, I went online and ordered a few rolls.

Upon receiving the package of these strange treats, I cracked open a roll and saw the pink opaque LifeSaver rings… they looked a bit like LifeSaver Pepto-Bismols.   I tried them and I’ll be frank – I just couldn’t warm up to the flavor.  I’ve been asked what they taste like and the way I’ve always described the experience is this way:  “They tasted like my grandmother’s makeup smelled.”  Not a good flavor for candy.

In spite of my inability to come to terms with this traditional Australian flavor, I nonetheless became quite enamored with the packaging, and with the idea of Musk Lifesavers – the oddest branch of the LifeSavers flavor tree.

Those rolls I ordered back in 2007 were presented just like the LifeSavers I was used to: an approximately 4-inch foil-wrapped roll with a paper wrapper around that.  Here is an example of a roll-wrapper from one of the packs:

Australia - LifeSavers Musk roll wrapper - 2007

Ever since I saved that first Musk roll wrapper, I’ve been on the hunt for any vintage examples, but in four years, none would surface.

I did manage to pull an illustrated image of an early 1970’s Musk roll wrapper from an Aussie show bag:

Early 1970's Musk Lifesavers illustration

That illustration is not much to look at, but you can tell that the actual wrapper had a nice design to it.

Even though it’s only been a handful of years since I picked up those first Musk Lifesavers back in 2007, the design of the packaging has changed significantly.  These days, Australian LifeSavers rolls are doubly long, and the wrapper design has a different look, too:

Musk Lifesavers Roll wrapper - 2012

It wasn’t until last month that my hunt for a vintage Musk LifeSavers wrapper finally came to fruition.  After five years of hunting, a search on Australia’s eBay finally turned up a 1950’s Musk LifeSavers roll wrapper.  I was fortunate enough to win it and I can now share it here.   It’s been a long-time coming and it’s great to finally be able to add one of these to my collection:

Australia - LifeSavers - Musk flavor - candy roll wrapper - 1950's

So now I’ve got a 1950’s Musk roll wrapper, but many eras of Musk wrappers (and other Australian LifeSavers wrappers) remain to be found.  So the hunt continues.

And that’s all on the packaging and history of Musk LifeSavers, one of my favorites from the oddball files.

For those that aren’t aware, LifeSavers is celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary this year, and you should soon be seeing special Centennial packaging on store shelves to reflect that.  I’ve got a lot of vintage LifeSavers packaging to share and I’m assembling a multi-part feature on LifeSavers history and collectors, which I hope to have ready later this summer.   It promises to be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to bring it to you.

About Jason Liebig

A New York City based writer, editor and sometimes actor. After spending much of the 1990′s in the comic book business helping tell the stories of Marvel Comics’ X-Men as series editor, he has since split his time between developing his own entertainment properties while still consulting and working on others. Having been described as “the Indiana Jones of lost and forgotten candy”, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books. Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and has also been a featured guest on Food Network’s Heavyweights, France’s M6 Capital, and New York’s My Google Profile+
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11 Responses to From the Oddball Files – Australia’s LifeSavers Musk flavor.

  1. Daniel says:

    Musk Lifesavers are delicious!

    I got my wife to try musk sticks (another pink, musk-flavoured Aussie sweet.. though soft and chewy in comparison to the Lifesavers) one time, and she had a similar reaction to yours.

  2. Lolly says:

    Great article, I recognise the wrappers apart from the 50’s one. I was a devotee of musk lifesavers as a kid and I still like the smell and taste of them.

    But nothing beats Musky Mints from Allens. They haven’t been made for years but I used to eat gallons of the things. They were the brightest pink of all the musk sweets and impossibly moreish.

  3. Musk? Hmm…sounds very odd to me!

    Otherwise Livesavers are my favorite candy ever. Livesaver Wintogreen I have to add! I love them since my childhood days and whenever someone I know travels to the US I ask him to bring some for me. The taste brings me back to Florida where my family used to spend our vacations in seconds! I have to stop writing as I’m getting all sentimental…

  4. Dean Leverett says:

    There were also some cherry ones in Australia that were opaque and light pink in colour like the musk ones. More like the mints in consistency than the more traditional fruit flavours. I love them, wish I could find some now…

  5. Pingback: Q&A With America's #1 Candy Wrapper Collector and Historian

  6. CDEeeek says:

    I came across your site while searching for Lifesavers Musk. I had found a miniature Lifesavers charm on Tiny Things Are Cute, and I was curious as to whether it was a typo, a joke, or if it was real. All I can say is “yuck”, but I’d probably still eat it. LOL Here’s a link to the item in question, I also pinned it on Pinterest. By the way, I have now spent whole mornings before work reading the articles on your site. I hope to scan in some stuff I have to Pinterest now, so you can see some of the weird stuff I’ve seen candy wise. Always been obsessed with candy! Love your site!!!

  7. Jeffrey says:

    I found these Lifesavers Musk flavor yesterday in Beverly Hills! My first thought was of animal musk, but I was relieved to find that “musk” is also a floral! 🙂

  8. Em says:

    Musk is generally rose flavoured, with a little bit of things like lavender, orange blossom and/or cinnamon.

  9. Sarah says:

    I’m from Australia and love musk flavour!!! Musk sticks and musk lifesavers were popular when we were growing up

  10. GF78 says:

    Does anyone know how I can get some here in the U.S.? I’m from Oz and A**zon has a box of 24 rolls for $25 plus $40 for shipping!!!

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