“John Wayne's Butt”
The Duke Cannon Supply Co. offers a lot of similar products that are meant to appeal to a retro appreciation of manly values and tastes, and they do a pretty thorough job of covering all the bases, both evoking nostalgia and poking fun at contemporary tastes. To what degree it's tongue-in-cheek, somewhat ironic, is not totally evident, which I guess is good marketing, since “all-in-fun” is more universally appealing than “angry and disgruntled.” And while it's not exactly unique to name your product “Big Ass” something, it still feels a little bit bold. At 10 ounces, this huge block of soap is impressive to hold on to. Their website is a lot of fun, and so is the box, which includes a photo of the top of a beer can on one end, and in the fine print, a rant against craft beer. That the soap is made with beer as one of the ingredients allows a marketing tie-in with Old Milwaukee beer, which adds to the regular guy, real man thing. I do love the Old Milwaukee logo, and the idea of it, though when I did drink beer, I remember it being on the low end of the spectrum as far as swill-factor went, but I drank my share because it was cheap.
Oddly, there are no ingredients listed on the box, though I did find them on the website. Not surprisingly, some chemical-y bullshit, but I'm sure they would find my interest in ingredients not manly, and any possible concern with personal or environmental health to be against their credo. Or at least the values of the “Duke Cannon” character they are portraying. I'm guessing that a lot of this soap is given as a gift and then never leaves the box—I've found that your average person is freaked out about trying new things, soap included. I wonder if it should be considered a manly value, to boldly try new, weird food, or new unusual soap? Anyway, to their credit, I found the light tan color lovely and the large letter “D” indented in the soap compelling. It felt soft and sudsy, and didn't make me break out (rarely a concern, but always a plus in its absence). My greatest focus was on the soap's fragrance and how that made me feel over the bar's fairly lengthy life. My obsession with fragrance, I'm sure, is decidedly not a manly endeavor.
At first, the smell nauseated me a little bit—not extremely, not terribly—but it was definitely on the unpleasant side. But as I used it (and I realize this has become a common theme) either the fragrance mellowed out a little or maybe I just got used to it. It definitely grew on me, and while I'm not totally in love with it, I like it a lot, like a man friend who is a little inappropriate at times. I guess part of the appeal is that I can't really nail down the smell. It reminds me of something, it's nostalgic, kind of retro, I guess, and really does evoke, to some degree, a working-man, or door-to-door salesman smell. There's probably something out there it matches up with exactly, but I just can't figure it out. Let me try one last time: OK, it brings back some childhood memory, like a soap my parents used or some aftershave my father had. I admit, Duke Cannon really pulled it off. I suppose not wanting you to think it will be like bathing with stale beer, their marketing claims a “Woodsy, Sandalwood Scent,” which strikes me as a little... artistic. If you were really dead-set on a retro man's soap, why not Kirk's Castile or Fels-Naptha?—two hardcore cleansing soaps I remember from childhood (which I have yet to review, here). Well, because that's not the point really—the point is humor and nostalgia—which this soap does have, in spades.
Soap Review No. 73