Firstly, I apologize for my spell of absence from BuildingMyBento. I had business to take care of out of the country, far too detached from the pleasures of blogistan. Hopefully, this issue will not rear its unwelcome self again.
I was taking a stroll through my photo archives and noticed that there was a bit too much of an emphasis on dental products throughout my travels. Part of the reason may be that I consistently forgot to place toothpaste in my checked luggage, in the seminal years of the persnickety TSA (the dour security agents at many USA airports). Thus, arrival somewhere meant that I had to rush to the nearest convenience store/apothecary/capsule hotel and pick up a tube/carton/barrel. Imagine (very) briefly that on each floor of the hotel you stayed at rested a communal barrel of toothpaste. Right next to the ice maker that perpetually leaked. Well, some airlines used to stock in economy class handy toothbrushes and small packets of toothpaste which, depending on which airline it was may have contained sugar (I’m looking towards you, Made in China). The handle of the brush was often shorter than your pinky, and at one point in your brushing-on-planes career either the brush or the paste prematurely invited itself into the rubbish bin, but at least you scratched the surface of effort…
Let’s take a gander through the confounding world of oral hygiene and see what el mundo has in store (or on the ground, as you’ll notice later):
Already I’m left out of the loop and mostly confused. I’ve seen women only train carriages in a few countries (Japan, Japan and Japan, to name one), women only hotel floors and airline lavatories (come to think of it, I first encountered all of these options in Japan), but what’s the deal with the toothpaste? Something added to help fend off osteoporosis/Japanese men? No. Rather, upon searching for the above brand online, two extra ingredients listed, black cohosh and dong quai, have both historically been used to treat menopause symptoms. Sly move, Optima.
The public opined, and Close Up listened– Nothing says what’s the point more than cola-flavored toothpaste. Why not flavor the bristles of the toothbrush too, and create a special dye to put on your teeth that easily comes off once brushed, to let kids feel like they actually are accomplishing something?
If Colgate-Palmolive didn’t assume partial ownership of this brand, (sharing it with Hawley & Hazel Group of Hong Kong), it would still be called Darkie (the Chinese reads “Black Person’s Toothpaste). Even after that US-based company stake its claim in 1985, it still took a few years for them to relent and change the name to Darlie, as well as alter the image to a racially ambiguous man. The product was created in the 1930s and may have been influenced by the contemporary actor Al Jolson and his equally concerning performances in blackface. Darlie is still popular in East Asia, although there has been a mostly quiet toothpaste-based opposition brewing over the past few years.
Located this Colgate knock-off on the ground in Myanmar. Back before you could get Coca-Cola or attempt to use an ATM in the country, say, four years ago, Ruby is a symbol of how things were. And how things still are, I reckon, at least until someone starts smuggling in name-brand merch. No I didn’t mean mirch, the Hindi word for chili, there’s plenty of that in Myanmar.
Colgate phony #2. From where you expect to see it. No these weren’t sold together (as wondrous as that might be). The yellow triangle in the upper left says “new breakthrough,” most likely referring more to the packaging than any beneficial quality to the actual paste…probably patting themselves on the back for finding a near match to the red background of Colgate boxes.
Buy some AAA Double Deer batteries, get a free Colgate. Originally, I thought it was the other way around, but after reading the Chinese, I knew that it was a bad purchase. Why so, mate? I walked into a Chinese store in Barcelona a few years ago, and needed to get some batteries. Tthe ones I bought (AA) didn’t fit into their usual hiding place. I made this fact known to the shop keep, who was unfazed, so I bought another pair that were extremely light. It was at that time I realized neither my battery-requiring camera nor myself were a welcome addition to that store… back to the photo. Maybe it’s not really toothpaste (could it be plastique?) It’s not the most unusual duo though. Wait ’til you see the next one…
Ah, so here, if you buy Colgate, you get a carton of (nasty) Mengniu milk. Though, how is it a two for one bargain? You’re not getting two toothpastes or two milks. More importantly, are you supposed to gargle (here’s a bit of Chinese for you: 漱口 shùkǒu= rinse your mouth; particularly useful in neon-lit buildings) with the milk, or mix them? Is it because store clerks are never willing to lead you somewhere (instead they just point to a vague direction), so they’ve saved you the guff of going to the dairy (albeit unrefrigerated) section? I seem to have lost a picture of the (yet again) Colgate-Dinner Knife combo, so if anyone is willing to add their photo to the collection, I”ll give you full credit.
What mysterious entries to the world of toothpaste have you noticed in your travels? Which of the above are your favorites (in that you’d never use them)?