We grieved for dELIA*s but this one really hurts: the family-owned Bonne Bell Co., in business since 1927, is no more. You probably know them best as the makers of Lip Smackers and, ergo, a candy-flavored mainstay of your childhood.
That's according to Cleveland.com. The company's COO sent the local mayor a letter saying Bonne Bell Co. "will be permanently laying off employees and closing substantially all manufacturing and distribution operations at the facility located at 1006 Crocker Road in Westlake, Ohio in connection with the sale of a significant portion of the business," meaning 91 jobs are vanishing into thin air. What's left of the company will now be known as Bell Family Brands, and they'll stick to selling Formula 10.0.6 skincare, according to Crain's.
Now, actual Bonne Bell and Lip Smackers products aren't biting the Dr. Pepper-scented dust, so don't run out and buy thirty tubes. The names have been sold to another company—specifically Markwins International Corp., which owns Wet n Wild and Physicians Formula. And judging from this press release, they are very excited to have their paws on the Lip Smackers name. Maybe they'll pump some more life into the line! But the sale likely means changes. At any rate, let's all take a moment to thank those monsters the Bell family for starting an entire generation down the path to a lifetime of overspending at Sephora. Cleveland.com marked Lip Smackers' fortieth anniversary back in 2013:
Jess Bell, the son of Bonne Bell founder Jesse Bell, long ago created a lip balm to soothe his winter-weary dry, chapped lips.
"But it didn't taste very good," says Bell's son Jess "Buddy" Bell Jr., who now runs the cosmetic giant in Westlake. "So he thought, why not put flavor in it?"
They began with strawberry and eventually expanded to 800 (often terrifying/gross) varieties, from Dr. Pepper to watermelon to Skittles. Your mom probably destroyed at least one pair of shorts by throwing them into the dryer with a tube in the pocket. I threw one out—maybe it was cotton candy flavor?—just a couple of months ago while cleaning out an ancient Caboodle buried under my bed since the Clinton administration. Now I've got nothing but eighteen half-used tubes of lipstick, lipgloss and lip balm to keep me company, and not one of them is popcorn-flavored. (Thank god.)
Image via Lipsmackers.com.