Whiskey Toothpaste

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May 28, 2013 | By John Zurbach

Like Booze? Hate dentists?
 
So did Don Poynter. And in 1954, the newly minted college grad decided to do something about it. With more ambition than credit, Don secured a $10,000 bank loan in, let's just say, a slightly less than forthright manner. However, he proceeded to manufacture the best damn reason we've seen for brushing twice a day: Whiskey Flavored Toothpaste.
 
 
Poytner Products' toothpaste was released in Bourbon and Scotch flavors and actually did contain a small amount of um, er, provisions to ensure an authentic boozy flavor. Tubes tipped the scale at a respectable 6 proof (com'n, it's toothpaste). Don's whiskey toothpaste struck a cultural nerve and wound up becoming one of the country’s biggest novelty items in the 1950s and 60s. 
 
 
Publications across the country got in on the fun. Pit & Quarry wrote, “Researchers found that those using the whiskey-flavored toothpaste brushed their teeth after each meal, including lunch at work – and as many as 14 other times during the day.” A shining endorsement if we've ever seen one.
 
 
Success, of course, begets competitors. Before long Don's toothpaste was competing against brands like Jigger, Wellington's, and even luxury retailer Neiman Marcus. Flavor offerings expanded from Bourbon to Burgandy. Slowly but surely, Poynter phased out production of his toothpaste. 
 
 
Fortunately, Poynter would go on to become a novelty item juggernaut. He sold millions of dollars worth of crossword puzzle toilet paper and trick lighters. He retired in the late ‘90s with over 100 patents on novelty products. That’s not a concrete number though, because “I never really bothered looking it up,” he said. 
 
 
Photo credits: Wallace Kirkland © Life Magazine.
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