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My Collection of Toothpastes from Around the World | Jennifer 8. Lee

Sunday 26th September 2010

by Jennifer 8. Lee

When I travel, one of things I like pick­ing up is tooth­paste (inspired by my friend Sasha Issenberg). In part because when you nor­mally travel, you bring your tooth­paste with you, so your mouth stays in your lit­tle bub­ble. This allows you to break out of your bub­ble and also gives you an excuse to visit super­mar­kets and drug stores.

In the U.S, we tend to pre­fer “med­i­c­i­nal” fla­vors but there are so many fla­vors around the world: salt, honey, aloe, mis­wak (a tooth­clean­ing twig used in the Mid­dle East and other regions). Sasha had green tea from Japan, which I still miss.

Tooth­paste as a paste is a 20th cen­tury phe­nom­e­non, thanks to the tech­nol­ogy behind emul­sion (read more on Colgate’s site). Dur­ing the 18th century, tooth­paste was mostly tooth­pow­der, dry cleansers that included ingre­di­ents like ground charcoal.

My plan was always to have my tooth­pastes in the bath­room, as I saw at Sasha’s place, so guests could try them out. I never got around to that. So they are still in the boxes (some worse for wear).

This is what I have built up so far: India, South Korea, Thai­land, Rus­sia (thanks to Jes­sica Naeve), China, France, Dubai, Cam­bo­dia (which is basi­cally Thai tooth­paste), Israel, Turkey, Eng­land, Malaysia. South Amer­i­can fla­vors tend to be the same as the US, so they are not super inter­est­ing for my pur­pose. I buy for the flavors.

Of course, mine is noth­ing on the order of Tooth­paste World by Dr. Val Kol­parkov, who is appar­ently a world record holder with some 1,800 tooth­pastes includ­ing a bunch of alcohol-flavored ones. I think of his more as nov­elty and his­tor­i­cal, as opposed to mod­ern real con­sumer pack­aged goods.

Any­way, here is a run­down of some of them.

The Asians really like aloe as a tooth­paste fla­vor. Which is weird, because we think of it as some­thing to use on sunburns.

Honey! From China. With the bee and everything.

Herbal” is also really pop­u­lar around the world, of var­i­ous sorts. Like “clove, basil, mis­wak and lemon” in the Mid­dle East to camomille, which I got in Mauritius.

Salt” is also a fla­vor that is pop­u­lar (not so much in the US) but in Europe, an in com­bos. “salt and lemon”, “salt herbal” and just “salt.”

And miswak/meswak, is huge in the Mid­dle East.

We’re not sure what fla­vor this Israeli tooth­paste has, if any other than “fresh taste”. It’s not Zebra. Looked over the box

This rep­re­sents all the fruit fla­vors: lime, lemon, apple and “exotic energy,” which looks like man­gos and pineap­ple. Remember, Dar­lie was orig­i­nally named Darkie, which had a logo of a a min­strel in black­face. It was renamed with pres­sure in 1989.

This Ayurvedic tooth­paste is from India. I like how they empha­size it’s “vegetarian.”

I think I bought this one in Dubai? It’s “red hot.”

This one is Russ­ian, brought to be by Jes­sica Naeve. It is flo­ral fla­vored per­haps? Any­one who reads Russ­ian can clarify?

This is from Turkey. We were not able to dis­cern a fla­vor despite using Google trans­late on var­i­ous words. Per­haps “vit­a­min” and “power” are con­sid­ered flavors.

Chi­nese herbal med­i­cine (“中草药”) fla­vored. Yum.

And we have funky fla­vors in Amer­ica too. This is bak­ing soda and per­ox­ide from Arm & Hammer.

If you are trav­el­ing or live in another ocun­try and see some inter­est­ing tooth­paste fla­vors you would like to send, please con­tact me. I pre­fer “real” con­sumer prod­ucts peo­ple can buy in a store, not nov­elty flavors.

Update: I hear there is Euca­lyp­tus fla­vored in France. Maybe I’ll get that in November.

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