It’s fourth grade and I’m sitting in class at my hellhole of a Catholic elementary school. I open up my pencil case and smile. I have a secret. I am a rebel. I have lip gloss in the form of a Lip Smackers Raspberry Spritz Lip Sparkler in there even though makeup is totally verboten.
The tube itself is a little sad – the poor thing has been through a lot. It leaked a few times, so the outside is sticky and covered in a metallic grey film from rubbing against the broken pieces of graphite rolling around. Covertly putting it in my pocket, I head to the bathroom to reapply. Fuck makeup bans… I have like ten more of these at home, anyway, and I dare those nasty teachers to even TRY to stop me.
After hearing the news that Bonne Bell is shutting down all production in the United States yesterday, I felt as if I was losing a close friend. Bonne Bell was one of the first to make fun flavored products for young girls and teens. They started a revolution – just look at how many different variations of lip products we have now! It brings back so many memories of just how much these products were a part of my life.
When I graduated from college, I decided to move to the west side of Cleveland in a wonderful town called Lakewood. As I was driving around one day, I almost got into an accident. I had found the Bonne Bell headquarters. No. Way. I immediately ran home, pulled open my makeup drawer and grabbed the first Smacker I could find. Sure enough, it said Lakewood, OH right on the label. I think I almost cried when I realized that my twelve year-old self would have NEVER in a million years guessed that she would one day live so close to where her favorite product had originated.
Do you remember all the seasonal tins they would come out with? How about Lip Lix, the more ‘grown up’ balms that were tinted and just as delicious as their more adolescent Lip Smackers counterparts? And does anyone remember what they were like BEFORE they started putting colorful labels on them? I sure do. How about the necklaces they used to make where you could switch your favorite glosses in and out? What about Sun Smackers, the sporty SPF versions that almost every lifeguard in the 90s had dangling around their necks at the local pools?
I wish I could say I did research before writing this article, but I didn’t… I have so much love for these products, so many memories, so many damn tubes of them that I just can’t find it in my heart to say goodbye. Even though I’ve ventured on to better balms – ones without the cloying fake scents and excessive glossiness – hearing this news gave me the opportunity to do something that I think I would have felt guilty doing before if circumstances weren’t so dire: I bought every Smacker I could find on the Target shelves today and I didn’t regret it one bit. For now, they will stay in my makeup drawer with their packaging intact and their bright colors and fun scents untouched by my hands… hands that are much older, perhaps a little more wiser, but nonetheless the same hands that held so many of these in my tiny palms throughout the 90s and my Dr. Pepper and bubblegum-scented childhood.