We live in an age of unparalleled variety. Never before in human history have we had so many options. Whether its food, clothes, cars, or cell phones, deodorants, or day cares, the people of 21st Century America have their choice of innumerable colors, styles, tastes, smells, or philosophies. But isn’t some of this just a teensy bit of overkill? Do we really need so many permutations of diaper cream? Is it necessary for Pepsi to have eight different varieties of diet cola (Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Pepsi One, Pepsi Next, Diet Pepsi Lime, Diet Pepsi Vanilla, Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry, Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi)?
Take toothpaste for instance. At my local CVS drug store, I recently counted over 25 different kinds of toothpaste that were all the same brand, Colgate. I didn’t count any Crest or Aquafresh, or anything else. Just Colgate. Twenty-five different types. And let me go even further by saying I didn’t even count the different flavors within each type. So example, Colgate Tartar Control I counted as one type. Colgate Tartar Control Mint, Colgate Tartar Control Fresh, Colgate Tartar Control Cinnamon were all counted as just one type, Colgate Tartar Control. If I had counted every flavor of every type? I’d probably still be there counting.
What’s the point of all this toothpaste anyway? Was toothpaste variety such a sticking point for good dental hygiene that there was–ironically–no other choice but to offer an exorbitant amount of choices? And this seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon. What did people do back in the day, like, the ’80’s, when there were only a few brands of toothpaste, let alone the scads of sub-varieties we have now?
I imagine some sort of Dr. Phil type daytime talk show, reliving the shame of a five or six toothpaste world. Toothless McGinty bares his soul to the good doctor.
“And Toothless, tell us why you were forced to wear dentures at the tender age of 23? Did you just not want to brush?”
“Oh no! I wanted to brush! Very much so, Dr. Phil, but I just couldn’t find a toothpaste that was right for me. That met my needs.”
“The need to clean your teeth.”
“That’s right. Oh sure, there may have been one that would have cleaned my teeth, prevented cavities, and freshened my breath. But none that really said, ‘This is who I am!'”
“Oh, I tried Colgate for a while. And Crest and Aim and even Tom’s of Main. I tried Close Up for cryin’ out loud. But red toothpaste? C’mon.”
“So, what could have prevented this terrible tragedy?”
“The only way, I believe, this and future tragedies could have and might be avoided is to have literally hundreds of toothpaste choices.”
“Hundreds. Ideally, everyone would have a toothpaste individually formulated to their own dental needs. But I’m a realist. Hundreds of brands and varieties should cover it..”
“And you believe this is possible.”
“I do. I believe in a America. And I believe America cares enough about it’s children to make this happen. Only then will we live in a world where corn on the cob and crisp Granny Smith apples can be eaten without fear.”
“Incredible story. We’ll be right back after these messages.”
If it was just toothpaste, I could let it go. But it’s not. It’s everything from ball point pens to home theater systems. Tried to buy a TV lately? You have to do research now. Research! Nothing spoils a fun electronics purchase like research. So, obviously I cannot let this go. Exhibit A: this ridiculous post.