Between 1985 and 1995, Linda and Lisa Yokubinas were the Doublemint Twins. As a result, they were the face of Wrigley gum and known all over the world. But behind the scenes, the pair had an increasingly fractured relationship.
Wrigley had used the Doublemint Twins advertising concept for decades before casting the Yokubinas twins in 1985. It was these two sisters, however, who became the most iconic incarnation, with a run lasting ten years. And the two models consequently became famous in their own right.
The original Doublemint Twins, in fact, were Joan and Jayne Knoerzer. Their stint as the iconic duo began way back in 1959. And the advertising agency that has created most of the adverts over the decades is Energy BBDO. “We would get bombarded with mail coming from twins all over the country,” the company’s president and CEO, Tonise Paul, later told Crain’s Chicago Business.
“Every twin in America wanted to be part of the Doublemint advertising,” Paul added. All of the applicants were subsequently vetted, including the Knoerzer twins. The president of the chewing gum company at the time, Philip K. Wrigley, was very keen to ensure a wholesome image for his product.
“[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 later recalled. For reasons that are unclear, however, the Knoerzer twins weren’t actually allowed to chew gum in any of the advertisements.
From 1959 to 1963, the original Doublemint Twins featured in a series of commercials. And they would also appear at events across the United States to promote the gum in person. “[We could] afford a beautiful apartment and travel and buy our mom a mink coat,” Jayne Knoerzer said.
The twins’ run came to a rather abrupt end, however, when one of the Knoerzers became pregnant, although the concept of the Doublemint Twins was still occasionally revived over the coming years. And as a result, Wrigley used several sets of different twins during the next two decades.
It was in this period that Doublemint Twins began to have careers after their modelling contracts with Wrigley ended. For instance, the twins of the late 1970s, Patricia and Cybil Barnstable, went on to appear on the cover of Playboy.
In view of the success of the commercials, Wrigley cast new twins in 1985. Linda and Lisa Yokubinas, who would go onto become the longest-serving Doublemint models, were from Illinois. And being chosen for the commercials was something that changed these two women’s lives forever.
The sisters went on to feature in six TV ads over the course of their ten-year run. They’re best remembered for the commercial that showed them losing their hats next to a swimming pool. And it proved to be a lucrative business, earning the models nearly $30,000 a year in residual checks after the commercials had aired.
“It was really incredible to be able to take those trips,” Lisa told The Huffington Post. “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.”
After their run as the Doublemint Twins ended, however, the relationship between the sisters became increasingly problematic. “We had a bump in the road in our relationship,” Linda said. “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.”
And despite the fact that the pair adopted stage names and always tried to look different, the adverts had left them typecast. This was a source of frustration to Linda, as it became difficult for her to find further acting work. Moreover, she was baffled by the continuing public interest in her appearances in the Wrigley commercials. “When you break it down, we were [just] walking and chewing gum at the same time,” Linda said.
And as a result of these difficulties, a wedge began to form between the sisters. There seems to have been particular resentment on Linda’s part, as she began to feel envious of her sister. “She’s the prettier one, she’s the smarter one,” Linda explained. “I basically had a personal crisis. I dealt with a bout of anxiety that was debilitating.”
And it appears that the Yokubinas sisters weren’t the only Doublemint Twins to encounter typecasting issues after their stint in the Wrigley adverts had come to an end. For instance, 1990s Doublemint models Brittany and Cynthia Daniel would later go on to be cast as the Wakefield twins in the television series Sweet Valley High.
As time went on, Linda began to distance herself more and more from her sister, despite them living within six miles of each other in Atlanta. “I didn’t want to be around her,” she admitted. “I was ashamed that I was envious, I was ashamed that I needed that attention or affirmation. It was this duality of emotions.”
And Lisa found it distressing that her sister was trying to spend time as much time as possible away from her. “It felt like rejection,” Lisa explained. “It just formed a wall between us, it was really hard.” In spite of the difficulties in their relationship, though, Lisa responded by trying her best to reconcile with her sister.
“I think my lowest moment in this whole struggle, nothing felt good, but Lisa glued herself to me,” Linda recalled. “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.”
And nowadays, the two sisters are on great terms again. At the same time, their ordeal has made both of them more thoughtful about their relationship. “I’ve learned that you never know what’s going on behind the eyes of someone,” said Linda.
Moreover, both sisters now have families, as well as careers that are unconnected to having been the Doublemint Twins. “I’m an interior designer, and I also write,” Linda explained. “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.”