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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Gateway Drugs

Of the soap variety that is.

Herbal Essence shampoo came out in 1972 – the year I turned 14. This was the very first shampoo that I bought for myself. I had a little of my own dough from doing odd jobs and just had to have it. Their beautiful, hippy-dippy, hand drawn ads sold me solid. Also, MEIN GOTT, it smelled divine. SO much better than that Breck crap my mother always bought (judging by this ad, it must Newty’s Stepford Wifey’s brand).

Barely above mediocre shampoos and soaps, like Herbal Essence — that shit leads to the hard stuff. Really it does.

In the shower the other morning, I found that my Tea Tree Tingle conditioner was all gone (it’s great for itchy scalps and smells good too). I was poking around for squibblets left in other old containers and — HUZZAH – found some.

For some reason, when I opened the bottle and poured a bit into my palm, I was transported back to Hoosick Falls in the days of Grandma and Aunt Mary Ann. They LOVED fancy, nice smelling soaps, lotions and hair products. I seem to have inherited this penchant.

Crabtree and Evelyn used to sell a wonderful Lemon Verbena soap. That’s still one of my fave scents. I googled and, sadly, they don’t seem to make it anymore. Trader Joe’s does though! Here's the thing – half my attraction was due to C&E's packaging art. The boxes always sported beautiful paintings, sparking my imagination. It put far off happy-promising adventures and exploration in mind.
An aside: I just love (and by “love” I’m being all eye rollingly snarkerific) how underneath their name London is noted. Why? Crabtree and Evelyn’s not an English company and the soaps aren't manufactured in, or even near, London – never have been. C&E was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1968 and was sold to the Nan Kai Corporation of Hong Kong in 2016. Possibly they’re trying to score some of Yardley of London’s customers? Yardley, by the by, IS actually an English company.
Why is London thought to be the home of soap poshness? Is it because of all the kings, queens, castles and moats? OF COURSE then, the personal cleansing products MUST be mondo luxurious! 
Yup, I don’t get it. You?
Meanwhile, the very upscale Caswell-Massey was founded in Newport, Rhode Island back in the 18th century. Their logo proudly proclaims their American heritage (so, even with the tyrannical buffoon in the White House, we can’t be totally devoid of charms and quality, eh? Right!?). Also too, unlike C&E, C-M products are manufactured here in the U.S. I guess, if I’m gonna go all triple mill happy I’ll switch to Caswell-Massey – less pretentious, don’cha know.

Here’s the thing though, C&E always had prettier package design than C-M. Is this still the case? For that matter, Roger & Gallet,  a French soap and parfumerie, had THE best packaging art. If I’m buying based on art (and scent) – this seems to be the brand to go with.

Maybe. I must explore further. Clearly!

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