Jonathan Dodd‘s latest column. Guest opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication. Ed
For years now I’ve been using a toothpaste from a well-known brand. It’s called ‘Triple Cool Stripe’.
I’m not sure whether the coolness is supposed to refer to its fashionable trendiness or some other quality. Perhaps its taste is the opposite of ‘Triple Hot Vindaloo’. I’ve stopped complaining about the weird names manufacturers give to things.
There’s a good reason why I buy this toothpaste. It’s not because of the seductive advertising or overblown claims as to its properties for reducing cavities or making my teeth white or less sensitive, it’s much simpler. I like the taste.
A disturbing trend
Recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend that fills me with foreboding. I haven’t been able to find my toothpaste on the shelves of supermarkets or chemists. Even worse, the last batch I bought was from Poundland. I was very excited to find several packets there, and the price was good. It didn’t occur to me to ask why they had it in Poundland in the first place.
I have a bad feeling that my toothpaste is no longer being manufactured. It took ages to find one I liked, and now I’m going to have to buy lots of different toothpastes and suffer their unpleasant taste until I find another that I like. This could be a long process.
Has anyone seen my stripe?
I’m not usually given to expecting the worst, but I’ve noticed another thing. Next to the empty space where there are no ‘Triple Cool Stripe’ toothpaste packets, there’s a new stack of ‘Cool Stripe’ toothpaste.
It’s the same price, but it has lost a stripe.
I bought one, hoping they just renamed it, but it’s not the same. There used to be a white stripe and a light blue stripe and a darker blue stripe, but the white stripe has disappeared. And it doesn’t taste the same. And when I spit, bits of the dark blue stripe emerge unmashed, as if they broke off, and just floated around in my mouth.
So, has it lost a stripe, or has it lost two stripes?
A discussion on the inadequacies of linguistic and philosophical attempts to define the concept of stripes
I always thought triple stripe was three colours. But you can’t have one stripe, because that wouldn’t be a stripe at all.
So one stripe is really two stripes. But which is the actual stripe and what should we call the other thing that isn’t a stripe? And it isn’t actually one stripe because the pattern repeats. Is the second appearance of the first stripe another stripe, or the same stripe come round again?
I’ve been meaning to write to the manufacturer about my toothpaste quandary, but this annoying lack of stripe definition has been holding me up.
I’ve studied the toothpaste in question, and the light blue goes right through the centre of the squirt, whereas the dark blue appears on the edge. So the dark blue is the stripe, obviously, and the light blue is the body of the squirt. So they’ve been conning me all along calling it ‘Triple Cool Stripe’, because it’s really been only two stripes.
So if I were to complain about the missing stripe, they would be able to point out that they’ve corrected the name and now their description is more accurate.
Toothpaste marketing suggestions
I have a feeling that any complaint I made would fall on deaf ears, and I’d get a platitudinous response, if any.
I think that toothpaste manufacturers should actually sell or give away very small tubes of different brands so we could try them out before settling on a regular purchase. Like they do with perfume or paint. Or they could hold toothpaste-tasting sessions, like they do with wine.
Or maybe they could add a description of the taste to the wording on the tube. Something like – ‘A heady fulsome aroma with a hint of wild peppermint and a refreshing tangy aftertaste’. On second thoughts that doesn’t work at all with wine, so it would probably be a waste of time.
Toothpaste rejection quandaries
There’s nothing more annoying than buying an expensive tube of toothpaste and hating the taste.
What do you do with it? Giving someone an opened toothpaste tube is not as bad as a second-hand toothbrush, but not by a lot.
And besides, if I finally found a toothpaste that satisfied me, what are the chances that they would stop making that?
It’s enough to make me foam at the mouth.
If you have been, thank you for reading this.
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