Take the Toothpaste Challenge

By | September 6, 2006

I like minty-fresh breath. Especially when tucking the kids into their beds at night — I love the sweet smell of their fresh breath as they kiss me good night. When my son shared that “eau de spaghetti casserole” the other night, I sent him off to brush his teeth. “I was going to, mom, but I don’t have any toothpaste. Sam’s dog ate it, remember?”

That’s right. He spent the night at a friend’s house and their dog apparently is also attracted to minty fresh smells. I saw the toothpaste tube carcass and said “No worries, we’ll get you some more later. We can leave this for Mrs. Beasley.”

So off I go to pick up some toothpaste. How hard is it to go grab a tube of Aqua-Fresh or Crest or Colgate? Well, toothpaste is an example of marketing gone wild. Each brand has too many options: teeth whitening, tartar control, enamel strengthening, sensitive teeth, flouride, calcium, gel, paste, gel & paste stripes, 3 kinds of mint, cinnamon… and various combinations therein! I hadn’t planned to think so hard. Imagine what I will hear from the family if I come home with the wrong tubes! (Then imagine how I will respond!)

I could hear my Grandma’s voice in my mind saying, “Hey, toots — we used good old fashioned baking soda when I was growing up and I had all my teeth when I died at 85!” Imagine that — good teeth and low prices!

A pharmacy worker came down the aisle to see if I needed any help. Apparently I looked quite perplexed, as if reading toothpaste boxes was an exercise in decoding a foreign language. “I’m looking for plain old toothpaste,” I told him. “I don’t think they make that anymore. They’ve got all new toothpaste technology.” the young man said.

Toothpaste “technology”? You’ve gotta be kidding! A toothbrush and some friction — that’s all it takes (Grandma’s voice again)

By this point, the young man sees that I’m either stupid or in shock. He decides to go for the jugular. “You know, some of these work better with motorized toothbrushes than others.”

I had forgotten about those. For people too lazy to rotate the toothbrush in small circular motions, there are now toothbrushes that will do that for you with the push of a button. I’m told that they really do make a difference, but then someone suggested that they work better because they run for 2 minutes and most people don’t make those circular motions on their teeth for two minutes on their own. Ahhhh!

After I held my breath and threw 4 tubes of toothpaste in my basket, the guy sheepishly asked, “do you need any tongue scrapers?”

“Oh, I’ve got plenty of those, thanks!” I said. Then I bolted for the check-out.

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