America Brushes Up

The Use and Marketing of Toothpaste and Toothbrushes in the Twentieth Century


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About the Book

This excursion into American cultural history looks at the toothpaste and toothbrush industries from 1900 to 2008. During these years, America moved from cleaning their teeth mostly with homemade powders to using an enormous array of brands, often applied with an electric toothbrush. From early 20th century products like Forhan’s (which “cured” pyorrhea) to the whiteners of the 1920s (which unfortunately also removed tooth enamel), and from paste that eliminated “that clinging film” and to copywriters who “wondered where the yellow went,” the history of toothpaste has long been a testament to the power of misleading advertising. Interrupting a steady flow of hyperbole was the one true wonder ingredient—fluoride, which enabled Crest to be for decades America’s top-selling brand.

About the Author(s)

Cultural historian Kerry Segrave is the author of dozens of books on such diverse topics as drive-in theaters, lie detectors, jukeboxes, smoking, shoplifting and ticket-scalping. He lives in British Columbia.

Bibliographic Details

Kerry Segrave
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 238
Bibliographic Info: 41 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4754-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5684-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction      3

1. From Ancient Times to 1899      5

2. Toothbrushes, 1900–1945      15

3. Toothpaste, 1900–1945      34

4. Toothpaste, Advertising and Marketing, 1900–1945      48

5. Toothpaste, Advertising Challenged, 1900–1945      63

6. Toothpaste, 1946–1960      80

7. Toothpaste, Advertising and Marketing, 1946–1960      101

8. Toothpaste, Advertising Challenged, 1946–1960      109

9. Toothbrushes, 1946–2008      117

10. Electric Toothbrushes, 1940s–2008      134

11. Crest Toothpaste, 1960–2008      145

12. Toothpaste, New Wonders, 1960–2008      157

13. Toothpaste, General, 1960–2008      172

14. Toothpaste, Advertising and Marketing, 1960–2008      184

15. Conclusion      202

Chapter Notes      207

Bibliography      217

Index      225