All my life I have been buying toothpaste based on what it tasted like rather than how good it was for my teeth. I remember when I was a kid there was a type of Crest toothpaste that was a royal blue gel with tiny silver sparkles in it. I loved that toothpaste so much my mom had to supervise me while I was brushing my teeth to make sure I didn’t gobble it.
Last month my wild mint toothpaste ran out and as I headed to the pharmacy I reasoned myself into buying a useful toothpaste rather than one that tasted good. I went for a Crest ( I know, I know, it’s Crest but I can’t help myself) super ultra whitening with extracts of real pearls with no mention of what it would taste like on the packaging.
The next morning as I reluctantly brushed my teeth with my new toothpaste I was surprised by a taste of vanilla cupcakes. At first I felt like something had gone wrong. I was supposed to be brushing my teeth, an act that is by definition the nemesis of eating sweets. How could I be tasting cupcakes? As I realized my super efficient new toothpaste actually tasted like a party in my mouth, I couldn’t contain my happy dance.
Then it occurred to me. Toothpaste is the one thing we have to taste on a daily basis. Twice. Logically, it should be the taste we care about the most and yet most grownup toothpaste is flat out nasty.
So I rallied a few friends, bought a few toothpaste samples and organized a blind tasting.
Meet the jury:
01 – Amine M.
Amine is an architect with a flair for cooking. He also happens to be this blog’s author’s best friend and Guinea pig to her craziest ideas.
Twitter handle: @Aminematta
02 – Cyril H.
Cyril is my boss (so I kind of had to include him). He describes himself as a book publisher (but that’s just because it would take him 30 minutes to give a real explanation). He is also an expert in unique toothpastes bought in obscure pharmacies in Paris.
Twitter handle: @Cyrilht
03- Joelle A.
Joelle is a woman of few words. She is a cinema buff and has consciously delayed her discovery of hommos and stuffed vine leaves (after which she ate the stuff every time she could get her hands on it).
Twitter handle: @leafsurtoncou
04 – Marilyn Z.
Marilyn is the author of this blog. An architect by training, I plan to never have a building to my name. I am a hardcore foodie and I spend my time making cool stuff for the web.
Twitter handle: @marilynzakhour
05 – Nasri A.
Nasri is a British-Lebanese writer, publisher and cynic. He subsists on a diet of ham + cheese sandwiches & NPR podcasts. He is also the author of Our man in Beirut.
Twitter handle: @nasriatallah
We tried to diversify our selection as much as possible, to include toothpaste for toddlers as well as mature adults (unlike myself). Tastes varied from bubble gum to clay to sea salt.
A/Theramed 2 in 1 Junior B/Premières dents C/GUM junior orange D/Crest 3D white E/Crest 7 Complete F/Colgate Junior Bubble fruit G/Stages Oral B Berry Bubble H/Elmex Sens Menthol I/Paradontax J/Dentargile K/GUM paroex L/Selgine M/Homeodent Citron
The jury was subjected to a blind tasting. Although they were allowed to see the texture of the toothpaste (which at times played in disfavor of certain samples), the labels and packaging were only revealed to them after they had finished the tasting round.
As is visible by the very high and very low grades some samples received, the jury generally had similar evaluations, with only Cyril sometimes attributing higher grades to odd tasting samples.
Once the tasting was over, everyone was asked to chose their favorite packaging. Crest obviously won best position, but it was followed by a more elegant runner up, the Homeodent (M) box and a more childish contender, the GUM junior orange (C).
In the end:
An easy conclusion is that even as grown ups we tend to like childhood tastes. The gum / berry / strawberry were a winner with every one. Gel textures were also favored, as opposed to the creamier samples. Packaging (I’m a marketing genius) had a big impact on which toothpastes we would have bought.
…And we all felt sick afterwards.