I was recently thinking about toothpaste ads from the 1960s. Toothpaste slogans and jingles of yesteryear are unmatched by today’s ads. More about the jingles later. Pondering old toothpaste ads sent me down a rabbit hole recalling Colonel Jack D. Ripper’s wisdom about tooth decay. Let us never forget the words of Colonel Ripper in America’s favorite movie, Dr. Strangelove. In 1964, Colonel Ripper was both the free world’s leading authority on dental hygiene and the spiritual founder of the Congressional Freedom Caucus. Colonel Ripper proclaimed, “I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” Gentle reader, in the unlikely event you have not watched Dr. Strangelove in the last six months, Colonel Ripper was talking about the evils of fluoridation.
Colonel Ripper explained his theory: “Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, ice cream? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. That’s the way your hardcore Commie works. I first became aware of it during the physical act of love. Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I assure you it has not recurred. Women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women ... but I do deny them my essence.”
Let us go then, you and I, preserving our precious bodily fluids while considering old toothpaste ads. How shall we begin? Do we dare to eat a peach? Nah, that’s J. Alfred Prufrock stuff, measuring out his life in coffee spoons. We are concerned with teeth, not spoons. Secret ingredients were the order of the day in the early ‘60s. Gleem was the toothpaste for people “who could not brush after every meal.” Its secret ingredient was GL-70, which cleaned your teeth and fought mouth cooties. Ipana toothpaste was pushed by Bucky Beaver, a cartoon rodent who sang, “Brusha, brusha, brusha, here’s the new Ipana.” Colgate Dental Cream’s secret sauce was Gardol, providing an invisible protective shield that kept tooth decay and bad breath away all day with just one brushing. A Gardol salesdude stood outside while a football player threw a football at his head. Whack! The football would bounce off the invisible protective shield around the salesman. This demonstrated how Gardol would protect your breath from gingivitis and your head from errant footballs. I really liked that ad.
Crest’s ad campaign starred kids coming home from the dentist with a dental report card cheerily proclaiming at the top of their lungs, “Look Ma, no cavities.” It was a proud moment for the entire family. Bill Cosby appeared in a number of Crest ads as a boxer named Mr. Tooth Decay. Bill would box a hanging punching bag that was a giant tube of Crest. The Crest punching bag would eventually win and knock Bill down. Bill had some later issues with knockout drops in another context.
The late lamented Stripe toothpaste had a really cool secret ingredient — Hexachlorophene — which was touted as a germ killer. Stripe’s gimmick was that when you squeezed the tube, a stream of red Hexachlorophene magically appeared, marking your toothpaste with groovy stripes. One Stripe ad featured a peppy chorus singing, “ Stripe is the cleaningest tooth paste/It’s got Hexa, Hexa, Hexachlorophene.” Another Stripe ad boasted “It looks like fun/Cleans like crazy.” Stripe toothpaste ads were particularly attractive to kids. I used Stripe myself. Turning the tube while squeezing made the red stripes go in a circle around the white inner tooth paste like a candy cane. Unfortunately Stripe was eventually pulled off the market due to a little glitch. Turns out that in addition to Hexachlorophene killing germs, if swallowed it could also lead to convulsions and respiratory failure as an added bonus. You might have seizures, but if you bit your tongue it would be with bright and shiny germ-free teeth, thus cutting down on the chance of infection.
Colonel Ripper warned us about the dangers of fluoride. It would be interesting to learn his position on toothpaste packed with red stripes of Hexachlorophene. Red is the favorite color of the Commies, so I suspect Colonel Ripper might also determine that Stripe was a Commie plot even more nefarious than fluoridation.
Remember, you only have to floss the teeth you want to keep.