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When High Street chemist Boots opened its doors in 1849, it was a modest, quietly confident sort of place attracting well-dressed gentlefolk perusing rows and rows of similarly shaped boxes. But don’t take my word for it:

"Three similarly shaped boxes, thank you, darling"

These days it’s having a bit of an identity crisis – it’s an opticians, a dentist, a sex shop (nearly), a supermarket, a space station, hell on earth:

Sale... of your soul.

But it’s not Boots’ fault it has slowly come to resemble some sinly-lit, hypnotic pharmaceutical haven for the masses. Oh no. Back in the day there were possibly one, maybe two, brands of toothpaste. Now there are 33,432. Just one of the reasons some stores are the size of Wales.

When in Boots the other day, the abundance of choice froze me in the aisle causing more decisive shoppers to brush past me hurridly as they scrambled for mouthwash. Colgate now supplies (at least) 22 varieties of toothpaste. TWENTY-TWO! Moreover, on Colgate online, each one has its own website. Colgate Total‘s firmly tells me, ‘You may think all toothpastes are the same – they’re not.’ I know you were thinking it. They’re not, OK?

I mean, it’s a wonder they didn’t stop at Colgate Total. You’d think it covered most tooth-related hangups. Now we have other aspirational varieties such as Colgate Time Control and Colgate Oxygen, promising your mouth will be ‘as clean and fresh as pure oxygen’. Curious, I inquired to Google the effects of too much of a good thing:

If you breathe air with a much higher than normal O2 concentration, the oxygen in the lungs overwhelms the blood's ability to carry it away. The result is that free oxygen binds to the surface proteins of the lungs, interferes with the operation of the central nervous system and also attacks the retina.

Well, that's something to look forward to.

I’m not sure what goes down at Colgate headquarters but I’m guessing people get pretty bored. “Well, that’s lunch over with. Wanna invent another toothpaste? I’ve got a great idea for Colgate Piss-take.

In the end I opted for Colgate Max White (what can I say, I’m a sucker for micro-crystals). There’s a lot going on in this toothpaste, namely weird bits of shiny confetti that promise to bring out the natural whiteness of my teeth. I’m not going to argue.

Choice is turning consumers into lunatics and Boots their asylum. All hail online reviews and the neurotics what write them. You save us hours of deliberation. Just ask Michael McIntyre (2:07):

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