The Curse Of Fame
The Yokubinas twins were the most recognizable faces of Wrigley’s gum for a decade. However, the twins have finally revealed the challenges that have threatened their relationship since their Doublemint days.
The Yokubinas twins weren’t the first identical siblings to don the Doublemint colors. The three decades prior to their involvement saw numerous other twins hold the baton for the Wrigley’s campaign. Nevertheless, Linda and Lisa made the roles their own and will go down in the history as the most iconic versions of the characters. This is in no small part due to the fact they simply did it the longest, for ten years, in fact. This eventually led to career options outside of the ads.
Long before the Yokubinas were even a thought in the world, there was another pair of twins that first represented Wrigley’s – Joan and Jayne Knoerzer. They started their stint as the Doublemint Twins back in 1959. It was advertising company Energy BBDO who kickstarted this iconic campaign, and its CEO, Tonise Paul, remembers how big the campaign initially was and the impression it left on so many pairs of twins. “We would get bombarded with mail coming from twins all over the country,” he said.
The advert empowered twins all around the world. “Every twin in America wanted to be part of the Doublemint advertising,” Paul said. However, the original president of the chewing gum company, Philip K. Wrigley, refused to take just any pair of twins for the job. He demanded that whoever got the parts were the perfect fit for their brand. They needed to be wholesome individuals. For Wrigley, the Knoerzer Twins ticked every box. But there were a lot of boxes to tick…
Ticking Every Box
One of the twins recalls how the CEO wanted to vet every potential pair of candidates. “[Wrigley] wanted to know where the twins lived, did they have a good reputation, and that they didn’t dance on tables or get drunk,” Joan Knoerzer said. Thankfully for them though, they were considered the best fit for the ad. However, for reasons that remain unclear to this day, the Knoerzers were told they shouldn’t chew gum in the adverts. How bizarre!
The Perks Of Fame
Regardless of the various odd decisions that the company enforced on the twins, the Knoerzers would eventually have little reason to complain. Between 1959 and 1963, they starred in a variety of Doublemint commercials. They also promoted the gum in virtually every aspect of their lives – attending events, visiting institutions and even releasing records of the advert songs. “[We could] afford a beautiful apartment and travel and buy our mom a mink coat,” Jayne said. However, this was all about to change…
Life Changing Moment
After four years of fame and fortune, the Knoerzers’ run as the original Doublemint twins came to a sudden end. This was because one of them became pregnant, and the non-pregnant twin wasn’t going to do the commercials alone. As a result, the campaign came to an end, at least for a temporary period. Eventually, the Doublemint craze would come back with a new incarnation. This would prove to be just the first of many utterances of the Doublemint twins…
After the Knoerzers left their post as the original twins, Wrigley’s made sporadic efforts to continue the campaign. One of the next iterations of the twins were Jennie and Terrie Frankel, who made the role their own in the late 1960s. After that, June and Patricia Mackrell took on the post in the 70s. The Mackrell Twins had also worked as the Toni Twins from Toni Home Permanent. With time, the prestige of being a Doublemint Twin would evolve.
Stepping Stone To Greater Things
Being a Doublemint twin became a prestigious step in any model’s career. It would prove to be a stepping stone to greater things for many who took on the mantle after the Knoerzer twins. For example, Patricia and Cybil Barnstable, who worked for Wrigley’s during the 1970s, would go on to appear on the cover of one of the most iconic magazines on the planet – Playboy. Eventually, the 80s came along, and a new pair of twins were ready to take over…
Enter The Yokubinas
In 1985, Wrigley’s cast Linda and Lisa Yokubinas to be the Doublemint models of the new era. The move would prove to be particularly fruitful for the duo, as they became the longest serving twins in the company’s history, starring in commercials for a full decade. Although they came from humble beginnings in a small town in Illinois, the twins catapulted into stardom as a result of their new roles. Needless to say, the job would change their lives forever, for better or for worse…
Over the course of their ten years at the company, the Yokubinas twins starred in six different adverts, all promoting the iconic brand of chewing gum. The advert that they will be best remembered for was the one where they are hanging out by a swimming pool and lose their hats. Although it doesn’t sound like much, Linda and Lisa were a recipe for success, earning up to $30,000 in residual checks. To say that they were successful Doublemint ambassadors is an absolute understatement.
One of the biggest perks of their jobs was being able to travel around the country shooting their various ads. “It was really incredible to be able to take those trips,” Lisa said. “We went to California, we went to Canada, we went to Hawaii, shooting these commercials. And every time was like a twin trip to get to be with my sister and spend time together. So it was such a blessing.” But this would prove to be the pinnacle of the twins’ career…
As soon as their Doublemint reign came to an end, the Yokubinas twins started to see cracks develop in their own relationship. And there was a good reason for this sudden change of heart. “We had a bump in the road in our relationship,” Linda confessed. “There’s an inherent competition you can’t get away from, because when people try to compare you like objects, they’re going to try to find differences.” But there was a lot more to this than met the eye…
The twins made a concerted effort to act as individuals. They refused to be known as simply one of a double act. However, producers didn’t see it that way and as a result, Linda and Lisa were often typecast. This meant that both twins struggled to find individual work. Also, Linda couldn’t understand why fans continued to credit her for her work with Wrigley’s. “When you break it down, we were [just] walking and chewing gum at the same time,” she said.
Although Linda and Lisa could relate to each other during this tough times, it also caused growing tensions between the pair. Particularly, Linda started to feel resentment towards Lisa, becoming increasingly envious of her. “She’s the prettier one, she’s the smarter one,” Linda said. “I basically had a personal crisis. I dealt with a bout of anxiety that was debilitating.” But surely the Yokubinas twins weren’t the only star twins to experience bitterness later on in their careers…
Surely enough, they weren’t the only ones who were experiencing these problems. Another star set of twins to be on the receiving end of typecasting problems were Brittany and Cynthia Daniel. The pair represented Doublemint in the 90s and went through exactly the same issues as Linda and Lisa. However, the Daniel twins were fortunate as they would end up being cast as the Wakefield twins in the hit TV show Sweet Valley High. But who are the current twins representing Wrigley’s?
Return Of The Twins
In 2005, after a brief hiatus, Wrigley’s revealed their new set of twins in the form of Natalie and Nicole Garza. They’re seen dressed in the more traditional Doublemint clothes similar to that of the original twins. Part of their adverts depicted them riding a joint bike in a variety of everyday situations. They are incredibly talented and sing many fun songs about enjoying the taste of Doublemint gum. It seems like the Garza twins have a bright future ahead of them.
Linda admitted that she has suffered from anxiety over the years. As a result, her confidence has been shattered, and it has also been detrimental to her relationship with her sister. She revealed her struggles on an episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now? “I was glad to share,” Linda said. “My hope is that people will take (anxiety) seriously, not be afraid of any label and really get the help they need.” But what could have been the root of these issues?
It turns out that one of Linda’s two spells dealing with anxiety came after she moved away from her hometown 10 years ago. After leaving Palatine, Illinois, only then did she realize how much she missed the place she had called home for more than three decades. It was where she and Lisa grew up and trained to be models and ultimately, was where they nailed their roles as the Doublemint Twins. But surely there was more at play here…
Living With Guilt
As they got older, Linda’s jealousy of her sister drove her away from her. As each year passed, she got more and more distant. Even though she lived six miles away from Lisa in Atlanta, they felt like millions of miles apart. But she felt guilty for having such negative feelings towards her sister. “I didn’t want to be around her,” she said. “I was ashamed that I was envious, I was ashamed that I needed that attention or affirmation. It was this duality of emotions.”
However, Linda wasn’t the only twin feeling terrible about the situation. Lisa also knew that things had not been right for a while. She realized how wrong it was that Linda wanted to virtually sever ties with her. “It felt like rejection,” Lisa said. “It just formed a wall between us, it was really hard.” But you know what they say, time is the ultimate healer, and all it took was some time before Lisa got in touch with her sister to try and rebuild bridges.
At that defining moment, when things became unbearable for Linda, Lisa was there to comfort her. “I think my lowest moment in this whole struggle, nothing felt good, but Lisa glued herself to me,” Linda said. “She came and sat on the couch with me, laid in the bed with me. I started having these pockets of light and this hope. I needed to hear that it will be OK.” It’s amazing what the soft embrace of one’s own family can to do to heal seemingly un-healable wounds.
Since making amends in recent times, Linda and Lisa are best friends once again. The ordeal has made their relationship even stronger, and both admit they have learned a lot and become stronger people as a result. One specific thing that Linda learned was that perception can never be underestimated. “I’ve learned that you never know what’s going on behind the eyes of someone,” she said. Also, there are other benefits that came out of Linda and Lisa’s recent reconciliation…
It seems light years since their time as the Doublemint Twins. This is partly due to the fact they both enjoy very different professions. “I’m an interior designer, and I also write,” Linda said. “I’m excited about this project that’s been bubbling in me. It’s a book, and the working title of it is It’s Going to be OK: Moments from My Life so Far.” It’s not just their current jobs that they can be extremely proud of…
Today, both Linda and Lisa have their own families. And the most amazing thing about it is that Linda is a grandmother! Here are the happy twins with Linda’s granddaughter. In the caption of this photo, Linda wrote: “[She] calls me Yoma (A made-up grandma name that combines our nickname Yoko 1 and Yoko 2- derived from our maiden name Yokubinas – with Grandma) she’s only 17 months and gets confused now when she sees Lisa!” She’s the youngest looking grandma we’ve ever seen!