E.J. Noble’s lasting impression seen across NNY
One hundred years ago, one man’s “bad business decision” was another’s good fortune.
In 1912, Cleveland candymaker Clarence Crane was looking for a way to prop up his chocolate candy business during the summer. He rolled out a new product packaged in a cardboard tube and pitched as a breath mint. The product originally was marketed without a hole, but the company soon discovered that it was easier to make the mints with a hole, giving them their brand-name appearance, Life Savers.
The candy with a hole in it caught the attention of Gouverneur native Edward John Noble. He had worked as a correspondent for the Watertown Daily Times to help put himself through Syracuse University and was a close friend of the late Harold B. Johnson, editor and publisher of the Times.
Mr. Noble was working in the advertising business when he bought his first roll of Life Savers and saw the potential of the candy for his business. He drove to Cleveland to sell advertising for the product to Mr. Crane, who didn’t buy it. Yet he was taken by Mr. Noble’s enthusiasm for Life Savers and suggested Mr. Noble buy the business.
The young advertising salesman returned to New York City to raise some money and convinced a friend to invest with him. Together in 1913 they paid $2,900 for the Life Savers business, which became the foundation of Mr. Noble’s wealth and life of philanthropy.
The venture did not get off to an auspicious start, until World War I blocked off competition from German and Austrian mints. Booming sales led Mr. Noble and his partner, Roy Allen, to consider
This article was previously published in the Watertown Daily Times on Sunday, July 29.