Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

To the Inventor of the Plastic Toothpaste Tube

September 1, 2008

I don’t know why I was thinking while brushing my teeth this morning, I just was. Of all the moments when we put our mind in neutral, tooth-brushing must be towards the top of the list. So to find my mind going places was something out of the ordinary.

For a moment I thought it was the toothpaste tube that did it. Got me thinking, that is. But that toothpaste tube has been silent for many a year. It was, however, the toothpaste tube that I was thinking about. Or rather, it’s inventor.

Back in 1975 I was reading about marriage. It was the year we married and I was reading everything relationship related that I could lay my hands on. I wanted this marriage to work.

1975 was also the year that somebody invented the plastic toothpaste tube. They were metal before that, remember? Lead alloy. Poisonous. And major marriage busters.

One of the commonly listed causes of marriage breakdown back then was the squeeze of the metal toothpaste tube. Husbands complained that their wives squeezed the tube near the cap. The paste got squeezed out the folded end. It required re-squeezing and re-folding and meant cracking the metal and the paste squeezing out the side. This, at least, was the wisdom of one of the books on making marriage work that I was reading at the time. I forget what the wives complained about. Oh yeah, something about their husbands forgetting things. Have I got that right? It’s so long ago now.

As a newly married husband I was terrified of that lead alloy toothpaste tube. Because it was true. Wives did squeeze near the cap. I was having to fix it. Re-squeeze it. Redistribute the contents. Flatten the back end. Fold it neatly. Make it right. Make it work. And then salvation. Somebody invented the plastic toothpaste tube. Within a year of being married the problem had been solved by some un-named production engineer, probably somebody’s husband.

And this morning? Well, I was thinking of how successful that invention has been. Thirty three years and still counting. That invention has obviously saved our marriage.

Who was that man? We didn’t get to thank him.