15 January 2013

The Flavour of Clean

Have you noticed the evolution of household cleaning products, and specifically the aromas that differentiate them from one another (or try to)? I'm not talking about "Windswept Tundra" or "Babbling Brook" or anything that is really betting more on the images. I'm talking about the ones that could well be flavours.

In the olden days (when I was young and many of my employees were not yet born), the smell of clean was all about the pine. This was not something I necessarily understood, growing up in a pretty rural area with lots of trees, many of which were pines. For me, if you smelled like pine, it meant that you probably got some pitch on you, and that was anything but clean.

Then of course I saw this campaign on the internet and a whole new level of dirty became associated with pine. (The company has moved on to a much more boring and wholesome approach to seeling its products, but luckily some remnants of the fun one remain available on YouTube.)

Next, as surely as fresh vegetables grown in far away places started to be available in my home town's grocery store, lemons burst upon the scene. At first it was just the furniture polish (does anyone use that anymore?), but it quickly moved on to dishwashing liquid, laundry soap and even floor cleaners. Why, even our old pine-based friend got in on the act…

And if one citrus says clean, why not another? Oranges everywhere! Grapefruit! Specifically pink grapefruit! I have had all of those in dishwashing liquids and I have to confess that I do appreciate the association of citrus with cleaning, especially the citrus that you can eat without being one of those wacky people who eats lemons. Oh, and guess what? Our old piney friend came out in orange, too!

Industry knows, though, that you flash-in-the-pan flavour of the decade will not last, and there were more avenues to be explored in the produce section. What could be more wholesome than apples? And particularly green apples, which almost reek of clean, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor. Oddly enough, our tree-hugging original-flavoured cleaner doesn't seem to have hopped aboard this wagon, but many others have.

My most amusing experience, however, was what spurred me to write this in the first place. Just as the fresh vegetables from far away places were followed into my hometown grocery store by thirteen kinds of mushrooms and fruits that we don't recognize fresh because we have been so used to seeing them dried, along comes the newest flavour of clean.

Oh yes, it's pomegranate. I'm almost speechless.

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