World War II Veteran To Get Final Wish: Themed Casket to Match His Passion For Handing Out Juicy Fruit Gum
When 94-year-old Suttie Economy is packed off for the sweet hereafter, his exit strategy is going to be a little sweeter than most. That’s because Economy plans to be buried in a casket decked out like a pack of Juicy Fruit gum.
The Roanoke, Virginia Navy veteran’s love affair with Juicy Fruit goes back to his days in the service, when as part of the Second World War effort, chewing gum manufacturer Wrigley suspended stateside distribution and sent bulk of its products to troops overseas.
Since then, Economy has become something of a self-appointed goodwill ambassador for the brand.
Sammy Oakey, president of Oakey’s Funeral Service and Economy have a friendship that goes back 45 years. “Suttie would come in here for visitation or just come in to visit and he would always bring a bunch of packs of Juicy Fruit… and put it out for the employees to enjoy,” Oakey told CNN.
Economy’s gum gifting ways weren’t just confined to funeral home visits. “He did it at restaurants and doctor’s offices—wherever he went,” Oakey said.
After Economy recently suffered heart complications, he approached his longtime pal with a request: When his time came, he wanted to be buried in a coffin painted to resemble his trademark gum—and therein lay the problem.
Mars Wrigley, current owners of the Juicy Fruit trademark, gave Oakey’s plea a thumbs down. “I told him I’d do everything I could to make that happen,” Oakey said in an interview with WLS 10 News. “I immediately called Wrigley’s and they… said no.”
Unusual burial requests are nothing new. When 37-year-old oil heiress Sandra West passed away, her will stipulated she be dressed in a nightgown, placed in the front seat of her 1964 Ferrari 250GT (“with the seat slanted comfortably”) and planted in the ground—car and all.
Organic chemist Fredric Baur, designer of the Pringles potato chip container had some of his ashes buried in some of his iconic cylindrical creations. Comic book author Mark Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed with ink that was used into a first-edition printing of Squadron Supreme. Gonzo journalist Hunter S.Thompson’s ashes were shot out of a cannon, while James Doohan, known to a galaxy of adoring fans as Star Trek’s “Scotty,” fittingly had his cremated remains launched into space.
Knowing how important the chewing-gum-themed casket was to Economy, Oakey didn’t give up the fight. The viral social media campaign he launched garnered contact information for Mars Wrigley’s top brass.
Happily for all concerned, Oakey’s renewed his request to the powers that be met with success. In an email from the company president, he was told the company would go along with whatever the family wanted to do.
Not only did the gum giant grant their biggest fan’s final boon, they also sent Economy’s family 250 packs of Juicy Fruit as a thank you for his lifelong brand loyalty.
Economy, who is currently being treated at Virginia Veterans Care Clinic, has actually taken a turn for the better. Whether his improved prognosis can be attributed to the “Juicy Fruit” effect is anyone’s call, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from this story it’s if you think outside the box—and ask nicely—sometimes you can take it with you.
And how sweet is that?