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No. 174:

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Pieced together from ancient legends by: David Morgan-Mar

The author writes:

Toothbrush manufacturers. Okay, you think, they must know a lot about toothbrushes. They must do research into them. It makes a certain sort of sense. They almost certainly know everything there is to know about toothbrushes, and then some. They know what toothbrushes do, how they do it, and why they do it. There must be some incidental knowledge in there too, you would think. They have to know what is in the average person's bathroom, and they surely must know how people store toothbrushes.

They have to be intimately familiar with toothbrush holders. They have to know, surely, what a typical toothbrush holder looks like. They must, must I tell you, know the size of the holes in toothbrush holders.

So why the hell do they make toothbrushes these days with handles so thick and chunky that you cannot fit them into an average toothbrush holder?

It's easy to be flippant and come up with sarcastic answers like "They want you to buy new toothbrush holders" or "They just want to be difficult/funny/communist". But I want a serious explanation. The conspiratorial answer is a little far-fetched even for devotees of The X-Files: Oral-B and Colgate in cahoots with Caroma and Fowler? And, as jaded and disillusioned as I am with the people who manufacture our essential hygiene supplies, not even I can believe it is some sort of deliberate attempt to sap our sanity, give them their private jollies, or undermine our democratic way of life. There must be some other explanation.

Why do manufacturers make a product which is so clearly and obviously incompatible with another product with which it is supposed to interact on such a fundamental level? It's not like toothbrush manufacturers have never seen a toothbrush holder. Even the most socially inept toothbrush company cubicle-worker must have used their products in the usual setting and had occasion to glance at the handy nearby item designed to hold them. You would imagine the marketing team, design scientists, and executives might have even more than this cursory familiarity with toothbrush holders. They have to know what they look like, what the typical dimensions are.

I'm not only talking your $1.95 plastic special toothbrush holders from K-Mart, either (although they indeed have the same problem). There are top-of-the-line metal toothbrush holders with a gleaming chrome finish and gold trim, in a variety of decorator styles to match your other expensive bathroom fittings. Wonderful shiny accessories which make you proud to have a bathroom and eager to clean your teeth regularly just so you can interact with their attractive yet understated elegance. But the toothbrushes you buy these days won't fit into them.

These chunky toothbrushes are all advertised as having some sort of ergonomically designed "comfort grip", that no doubt took a dedicated team of toothbrush ergonomics engineers countless sleepless nights slaving away over hot computers with CAD programs borrowed from Industrial Light and Magic to design. But has anybody ever questioned why we need an ergonomic grip on a toothbrush? We use the thing for about two minutes a day - hardly enough time to inflict a serious case of Repetitive Brushing Injury on yourself. Give us a grip that fits into our toothbrush holders, damnit, not one that is better suited to the manual landing controls of the space shuttle, where an inadvertent slip might actually result in something more embarrassing than a streak of toothpaste across your cheek.

I pose the question quite seriously. I have this utterly useless piece of very attractive designer bathroom fitting in my home. Even if I could find a toothbrush holder that held these behemoth toothbrush handles, what are the odds of it being in the same chrome and gold finish, in a matching style, and costing under $800? And why, for crying out loud, should I even be bothering?