Oh noes. The family-owned Bonne Bell Company is shutting down forever and laying off nearly 100 employees. Established in 1927 and named after founder J.G. Bell's daughter Bonne Bell Eckert, Bonne Bell is of course most famous for its super-affordable, pre-teen- and teen-targeting Lip Smacker. You know it, right? Lip Smacker, the first flavoured lip gloss, launched in 1973.
I've actually never owned a Lip Smacker, although the Tootsie Roll flavour looms large in my mind. My first memory of Bonne Bell cosmetics, though, is of the flavoured roller-ball glosses my cousin Marcia had in the mid-1970s. (Please tell me I'm not confusing them with Maybelline's Kissing Potions!) Oh, how I coveted those. I got to wear some during a week's stay in Trinidad with Marcia's family between leaving St. Vincent and moving to Canada, but I don't remember whether I snuck those slicks of sweet, super-shiny gloss, or Marcia gave me permission (do you remember, Marcia?).
Most people are all in with Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, which were at one point the top-selling lip item in the US. "Long live my Dr. Pepper lipgloss. And watermelon. I have no reason to live," mourns our Liza (LEEZA) Herz, who alerted me to the sad news of the company's demise. In her teen years, Bonne Bell was something of a status item: "I remember a very preppy friend in my high school had more than one Bonne Bell Lip Smacker," Liza reminisces. "They used to be jumbo-sized, not Chapstick-sized. That's a recent downgrading. (Ok, by recent I may mean some time in the past 20 years.) Anyway, this friend had several of them, one of which I remember she wore around her neck. Handy. She also wore Tretorn sneakers, Cream jeans, Ralph Lauren polo shirts and carried a Le Sportsac tote bag. Mind. Blown."
But hold up -- you can dry those tears! Although the Bonne Bell Co. will disappear in February, the Bonne Bell and Lip Smacker assets will survive at least in some form: Mawkins, the company that owns Wet'n'Wild and Physicians Formula has bought them.
So, how many Bonne Bell Lip Smackers did you own as a tween/teenager? Or now? What's your favourite flavour? And/or your least favourite?
Bonne Bell Lip Smacker ad images via waheedaharris.wordpress.com.