Sunday, November 21, 2010


The best kind of product reviews are those where the author is highly opinionated, has never actually seen or used the product in question, and instead relies on preconceived notions formulated over many years of being skeptical and sarcastic. It works for movie reviews as well, I suppose, but that’s a bit off topic at the moment.

Let us consider, then, the Colgate Wisp. I first heard about it from a televised commercial. A handsome woman clad in a skimpy outfit and sitting in the backseat of a luxury car parked outside a popular nightclub had a sudden emergency. Her breath was not fresh! Possibly she had shreds of spinach caught in her teeth from her dinner salad as well.

She needed help, and it arrived in the form of a small brush with a pre-applied bit of mouth cleaner. After a quick swipe, she grinned widely in the rearview mirror and went inside the club to dance erotically and probably drink too much. The commercial didn't show her four hours later when the club closed, but I presume she would need to freshen up again.

Sadly, the item she used in the car was designed to be thrown away. No concern for landfills and bulky plastic garbage. Nope, she tossed the first one and probably got another one from her purse later, just in case her kissing bandit showed up again.

The “emergency” that propels people to buy the Colgate Wisp is slightly fictitious, and even if it wasn’t, that particular problem was solved decades ago. I know fresh breath and clean teeth are important, but it seems unnecessary to have them both twenty-four hours a day. As human beings, we sometimes have to eat and drink, and that affects our ability to perpetually smell like sunshine and love.

I don’t eat two dozen garlic cloves and expect anyone to get too close, but here’s the thing: I rarely eat two dozen garlic cloves, and even less often is anyone trying to get too close. Kristin does on occasion, I think it happened once or twice this past summer in fact. But there is usually plenty of time to react.

The folks in the ad who need this product are the ones who are flying around town in a constant state of excitement and, quite frankly, never know who they are going home with. Anyone in a long-term relationship can say, “Hold on, sweetheart, let me take care of something,” and then proceed to look for a toothbrush, mint, or mouthwash. If it takes a few minutes no one cares, because they don’t live in fear of the person running off.

Pity, then, the hot number in the mini-skirt (or his date) who can’t turn away for even a moment for fear that the object of their affection will immediately look elsewhere. A quick check in a pocket or clutch bag and he, she, or it has disappeared. Fresh breath ain’t no fun if you don’t have anyone to share it with.

What they don’t realize is this: it’s not a real emergency if you smell like your dinner. That’s normal. It happens to everyone about once a day and we all should expect that from each other. To have the fish stew and then smell like a peppermint candy is what’s weird, not breathing out the cod. It’s only bad if you don’t like the smell of cod.

Some people like beer breath on their paramour, others not so much. But there have been ways to deal with this for years. The folding camping toothbrush from my youth, for example. I used to take it to school after I got my braces on so that I could brush during lunch. Not because I was making out with any classmates or the teacher, but because I was ordered to by my orthodontist. He was a scary dude.

I’ve seen people dab toothpaste on a finger and swish that around. There have been fast acting mouthwashes—and “curiously strong” mints that can easily override any chilidog with extra onions—available for purchase for many years. We didn’t need this new product, the Colgate Wisp. Certainly our landfills don’t need all the crap generated from just one mouth cleaning, and I’m not even a rabid environmentalist.

I just don’t like stupid.

If you’re worried about offending someone, breathe in another direction. If you are pretty sure you are going to be kissing someone later, but you don’t know who that person is because you haven’t met him or her yet, I suggest you have a bigger problem than bad breath. In the meantime, brush before you leave the house.

And don’t have the spinach salad.

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