Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Shit Made Me Laugh

[Trust SB, I've bought products from whack-job salesmen before, just to get away from them. I like to imagine Dr. Bronner pouncing on hapless passersby. I love crazy people. They are a fucking good time.]

Bronner is an 85-year old (as of 1993) German immigrant who hangs out in Escondido, California. He's not an MD or strictly speaking a rabbi, but claims he's got the equivalent of a PhD in chemistry, which I guess makes him a master chemist. He's also not your average soap maker. Whereas Messrs. Procter and Gamble dream (well, dreamt) of enzymes and long-chain fatty acids, Bronner dreams of world peace.

Bronner wants to convince mankind of the virtues of the "All-One-God-Faith," which, together with the "Moral ABC," his answer to the Ten Commandments, will unite the human race. The details of this can be a bit hard to follow. For example: "Replace half-true Socialist-fluoride poison & tax-slavery with full-truth, work-speech-press & profitsharing Socialaction! All-One! So, help build 4 billion Hannibal wind-power plants, charging 96 billion battery-banks, powering every car-factory-farm-home-monorail & pump, watering Babylon-roof-gardens & 800 billion Israel-Milorganite fruit trees, guarded by Swiss 6000 year Universal Military Training," etc.

Talking to the doc on the phone is the audio equivalent of reading one of his labels. He can be pretty linear when he wants to be, but eventually always veers off into a rap about the Essene rabbis and whatnot, delivered in a nutty-professor German accent. Believe me, it's an experience.

Bronner has had an eventful life. The son of a Jewish German soap maker, he emigrated to the U.S. and pleaded with his father to do the same when the Nazis came to power. The old man refused. One day Bronner got a postcard with the words, "You were right. --Your loving father." He never heard from his parents again.

Initially settling in the midwest, Bronner married the illegitimate daughter of a nun, who eventually became suicidal and died in a mental hospital. (He says she was tortured by the hospital guards.) He also began devising his plan for world peace. Fittingly, he took to the soapbox to promote it. One of his listeners, Fred Walcher, was so inspired that in 1945 he had himself crucified in Chicago in order to publicize the plan. (He survived.)

Later Bronner was arrested while trying to promote his plan at the University of Chicago and was committed to a mental hospital. He escaped three times, finally fleeing to California in 1947. He's been there cranking out soap and soap labels ever since.

Despite his eccentricities, Dr. Bronner has built his soap company into a prosperous concern, mostly by sheer force of personality. In the early days he would set up a table at health food conventions. If a dealer strayed within ten feet, Bronner would pounce and not let go until he'd gotten an order.

But things didn't really take off until he was discovered by the counterculture during the 60s. With the aid of his sons Jim and Ralph, who handle production and sales, he currently sells some 400,000 gallons of liquid soap and 600,000 pounds of bar soap a year. He says he's now worth $6 million--not bad, he notes drily, for somebody who's supposedly nuts.

Bronner's birth control method involves using lemon juice and Vaseline as a spermicide. While it's true the high acidity in lemon juice will kill sperm, doctors say it could also cause your insides to become irritated or burned. Besides, Vaseline isn't water soluble. You'd be clogging up your insides and wreaking God knows what kind of havoc. With all respect to Bronner, I'd advise sticking to diaphragms.

— Cecil Adams


Ms. Moon said...

You just reminded me- I'm out of Dr. Bronner's. I love that shit. Always have.

downtown guy said...

That soap is the shit. Seriously, best liquid soap of all time.


Steph(anie) said...

Ms. Moon's comment really capped off a strange post. I've never heard of the guy or his soap.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Ms. Moon & DTG,
It is the shit indeed!

Love you both.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Try it. All natural. Great for dry skin. Fairly economical. Even Kroger carries it now.

Love you.

Jeannie said...

Hold on here - he advises using Vaseline and lemon juice as spermicide? What the hell is he putting in his soap?

I'll pass. I think we have a couple sane people here in Canada who make soap.

May said...

Do not wash your hair with peppermint soap! When it comes to the body, soap and shampoo are not all-one!
Aside from that, I love it. I love the way it makes me tingle. The tingle means it's working!

downtown guy said...

Jeannie, your loss, because that soap is really the best ever. The liquid peppermint or lavender kinds are out of this world.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I'm with my brother. I don't care if the motherfucker is crazy or not. His soap rocks!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I'm with you--as a shampoo, motherfucking shit sucks, but as a soap. Hot damn!

I love the shit out of you.

downtown guy said...

But don't brush your teeth with it!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Inquiring minds want to know. Did your ass brush your teeth with that shit? Laugh.

Please send details.

Love, SB.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I'm sorry. That shit is funny, Hank.

downtown guy said...

May and I have both tried it. It says you can on the label. The label lies, folks.

Ms. Moon said...

The almond is rather pleasant too. I keep the lavender Dr. Bronner's in a pump dispenser at the sink. Mr. Moon and others hate this because it sort of gets plugged up and then when you pump it, the stuff sprays all over. There's a technique to getting it out without this mishap but Mr. Moon refuses to learn it.
Oh well.