Freshest Breath Ever

There’s no way of knowing for sure if other American households have the same tendency as mine, but I suspect it’s at least a strong possibility.

Between “purchase in massive quantities” outlets like Costco and Sam’s Club and the regularly occurring “buy 10, get five free” sales at local grocery stores, it’s nearly impossible not to end up with a mini-stockpile of bathroom products.

Isn’t it?

Go ahead, reveal to the person standing next to you exactly how many rolls of Charmin Basic (or Cottonelle, or White Cloud, or Quilted Northern) you have stashed in the basement, garage or hallway closet. Or are boxes of tissues (better known as the trademarked Kleenex) your vice?

Maybe you’re the one who has limitless supplies of toilet bowl cleaner and Soft Scrub always at the ready–or perhaps it’s bars of Dial, Irish Spring or Ivory for which you’ll never be at a loss.

Certain people are obsessed with odor-masking sprays. Hard evidence leads me to that bold declaration: Store aisles brim with bottles of Poo Pouri, Glade, Febreze, Lysol and Seventh Generation mixtures, all designed to aid civilized folk in pretending that one of the most basic human functions doesn’t ever occur in THEIR homes.

My greatest personal weakness, however, may involve toothpaste.

Although I was raised to be a “squeezer” (rolling, twisting and pressing each tube until every last viable drop of tooth cleaner is forced from its hiding place and plopped on a waiting toothbrush), it’s always a minor delight to open a fresh tube, which requires a contrasting touch from that which was exercised on the previous remnant.

Now, blessed with more than one bathroom in our house, it’s sometimes difficult to monitor my children’s pace of toothpaste consumption. Rarely do I know it’s time for a new tube until I hear the inevitable, “MOM!?!! I need some toothpaste!!”

When that moment most recently arrived, I walked to the cupboard where our supply is stacked and pondered the choices. Was it more important for the kids to have a breath-freshening model, a fluoride-boosting type, a gum strengthening formula or a high-powered whitening tool?

Were “stripes,” paste or gel preferred?

And, most critically, which flavor would satisfy?

Before analyzing all the options before me, I yelled out, “Do you want mint or???”

I stopped in my tracks and began pulling tube after tube from the shelf. Mint or what, exactly? Everything we had was mint, or a form of mint.

There was invigorating mint; clean mint; fresh mint; brisk mint; cool mint; minty fresh striped; spearmint; winter mint; herbal mint; bubble mint; cinnamon mint; aquatic mint; and….mint.

Certainly there are even more types of mint toothpaste for sale at Walgreens, Walmart and Shopko, but gosh, even 12 variations on a theme is overkill.

Imagine the dozens of marketers and product developers employed by Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive sitting around corporate conference rooms and labs sampling mini-dabs of toothpaste, analyzing charts of appealing modifiers and attempting to craft unique and palatable names for endless adaptations of mint. Hey, people–it’s harder than it seems.

Maintaining a minty fresh mouth? Not a challenge, as long as you can decide which interpretation of “mint” is most attractive to your particular tastebuds and pearly whites.

Take it from me: The mint is out there.