What the heck is going on in the Listerine section of the mouthwash aisle?

Good old amber colored, disinfectant flavoured Listerine woke up one morning, thinking everything was a-okay. He snapped on his socks and garters, donned a razor sharp “sack suit,” smeared some Brylcream in his coif and hit the shelf just like any other day. Imagine his surprise when he found that his rack had become somewhat crowded.

Cool Mint. Natural Citrus. Advanced. Freshburst. Vanilla Mint. Even a kid’s version of Listerine called Agent Cool Blue for goodness sake. Poor guy thought he’d gotten lost and ended up in the Jones Soda display. He couldn’t believe his eyes.

Does Classic Listerine deserve this kind of harsh treatment? Back in the day, Sir John Lister created his famous liquid solely to stop infections from occurring during operations. Seriously, Listerine was used for sterilizing patients before surgery. That is the very definition of “germ fighter” to me. By 1914 Listerine had founded the whole stinkin’ mouthwash category. They actually invented the word halitosis.

Come on, why wouldn’t Classic Listerine strut around with his head held high. “Mouthwash? I created it,” he says, dancing the Lindy, yet still totally unaware that the crowds these days are snickering and laughing behind his back. Folks just stopped buying mouthwash that had more in common with formaldehyde than breath mints.

It’s hard to argue that the taste of Listerine is anything but God-awful. Suffice to say, having to endure such a mundane experience as a mouth rinse does not fly so high these days. Rinsing your mouth should be enjoyed. Having to accept that pain, discomfort or extended efforts of any kind are associated with success is not really the universal reality it once was. How Buckley’s Mixture can still prosper in spite of their flavour issues is a miracle unto itself.

Personally, I had always been kind of impressed by the fact that Listerine hung tough. They were so sure they had the goods that they laughed as the latest flavour bandwagon rolled on by. That kid of confidence is always attractive. Listerine held firm in their belief that common sense would ultimately prevail and reward the tried and true ninja master of mouthwash.

But I guess it never really happened soon enough. So, the folks at Listerine, fearful of having to go out and get new jobs finally admitted to what everyone else now believed about their Classic Creation. His wardrobe was outdated, his style was stale and his whole schtick was old news. In good conscience, they couldn’t just dump him entirely, so they did the next best thing. Grandad got a hip new set of friends.

And they are good. I even recommend Vanilla Mint for a splash every now and again. But I remain inextricably drawn to our friend from way back when. Original Listerine just seems to work better   The new flavours are fun and all, but rinsing your mouth with them tastes more like sucking a popsicle than an exercise in germ location and detonation. None of them seem able to replicate that horrible burning sensation that Original Listerine provides. This is important aspect of the brushing experience as it is the only thing that truly convinces me that absolutely nothing has survived the oral housecleaning.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what they’ve done. Trying to update their image and play to the crowds a little is only fair. They’ve got to make money too. And if it keeps the bills paid, well then, all the better. I ask only that they never, ever do away with the tried and true Bitter Amber Nectar that I know and love. The taste may have more in common with cleaning fluid than Sprite but it works like nothing else I’ve ever used.

Besides, everybody knows that the old school is the best school, bar none. And you don’t get more old school than Original Listerine.

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