Friday, December 18, 2009

those toothbrushing days




those who are in their late twenties and early thirties may not be aware that in the early days, 'darlie' toothpaste was known as 'darkie' toothpaste. the change of name came about in the 80s, after the company was acquired by colgate.

this video clip (for hong kong viewers) shows the simple change of name - just by substituting the letter 'k' with the letter 'l'.

in the 50s and 60s, people were apparently not so sensitive about racial and race issues. the word 'darkie' is used to refer to black people in the united states. although the new english name 'darlie' has no racial connotation, the chinese name for the tooth paste remains unchanged - black people's toothpaste.



in those early days, the choice of brands of toothpaste was rather limited: in fact, it was between colgate and darkie.

i also remember my late grandmother and my mother using a metal scraper - i think it was made of aluminium - to clean the tongue. that kind of scraper appeared to have become obsolete. i have not seen it around after we moved into a hdb flat in the early 80s.



recently, however, i have come across a number of reports which advocate the use of the scraper as the most effective way of curing bad breath. the new scraper is usually made of plastic. it has a handle which makes it long enough to reach the inside area of the tongue. you scrape your tongue gently a few times and after that you rinse your mouth and the scraper.

13 comments:

Lam Chun See said...

YG. You forgot to mention that in the old days the toothpaste tube was made of lead. I think around the time when they changed the name, they also stopped using lead tubes for health reasons.

I also remember seeing my uncle brush his teeth using toothpaste that came in a circular container; much like the kiwi shoe polish. Instead of squeezing the tooth paste, you would have to scrape it.

yg said...

chun see, thanks for the information about lead tubes and toothpaste in a circular container. i always thought that toothpaste came in a tube.

Betty said...

Yes, in the 50s toothpaste came in circular containers.
The tongue scrapper is still available. It comes in plastic or stainless steel. Get them from haberdashery stalls in markets or "pasar malams". I can't do without them.

yg said...

betty, how come, each time i use it, i have the urge to vomit?

Ang Sar Lee said...

Chun See, regarding the toothpaste that your uncle used, was that also known as tooth powder or is tooth powder something else? I remember them being sold in the emporiums.

Victor said...

YG, you should have use this photo in your post for maximum effect. I believe many young people don't know how Darkie (the figure) used to look like.

yg said...

hi ang sar lee, there was indeed circular containers for toothpaste. i found a picture here .

Betty said...

Yg, I really don't know. Maybe you are not used to it yet.

yg said...

victor, i came upon the same photo but chose not to use it.

Victor said...

>how come, each time i use it, i have the urge to vomit?

Because your Maker has implanted a sensor near the back of your tongue which gives you a vomiting reflex when this spot is pressed down. Try doing it with you finger when you are full. Haha. (Many anorexics do, after a full meal.)

alfy said...

Hi! I happen to stumble across this post. The mint museum of toys have the small metal tube of darkie toothpaste on display. i've got the photograph but have no idea how to show it here (if you have any way, let me know or i can send the pic to ur email and u can post it here) :))

yg said...

hi alfy, you can email the pic to me at this address: ivyidaong2000@yahoo.com.sg.

David Harvey said...

Hi, I found your blog while looking for pictures of antique Chinese tongue cleaners. (I'm an old Kwailo who grew up in Hongkong in the 50s and 60s and went to King George V School.) I remember my mother buying an antique silver tongue cleaner and showing it to me. Yes, I sure do remember the Darkie toothpaste and the lead tubes. Those tins of tooth powder in flat circular cans. Thinner than shoe polish. Inside there was a compressed round cake of tooth powder. It had a peppermint taste. I cannot remember the brand name, but it was probably English. All the best guys! I still love Honkers!