Caswell-Massey – Almond Cold Cream

“Almond Egg”

My second Caswell-Massey soap to try was this “Almond Cold Cream” variety—which was favored by Dwight D. Eisenhower—frankly without much expectation. It's a big, rounded oval, white bar, and I expected blandness. What comes to mind when you think about Eisenhower? He was a two term president, between Truman and Kennedy, a bald Texan and five-star general, and I think, a generally well-liked president. This is how old I am: He was the president the first year of my life—a man born in the 19th Century (1890)! I have this funny recollection from almost 30 years ago about some guy calling me “Eisenhower”—I was at the beer store, and I was wearing these baggy, old, thrift-store pants, and this jock-guy looked at me and an expression of disgust came over his face, and he looked down at my pants and said, “Hey, Eisenhower,” then left quickly, before I could punch him, or ask him what in hell he was talking about. Why do I remember that? I suppose because of his aggression, though it wasn't unusual for jocks to pick on people who dressed at all oddly. But also, I could never figure out exactly the relationship between Eisenhower and my pants.

Anyway, back to the soap. What does “cold cream” mean to me? It makes me think of an old movie actress in her dressing room in front of the mirror, cold cream covering her face after a performance, to remove the pancake makeup and to restore her skin. So the use of cold cream seems like a very old-fashioned thing, and though it's still around today, have young people replaced it with a more modern treatment? I can't say for sure if this soap is less drying and more moisturizing than other soap, but maybe—for sure it's very soft and rich feeling.

Now, I had some trepidation about this almond scent; I've got a complicated relationship with almond. While it's my favorite nut, I've had bad experiences with the almond flavor. I once worked somewhere and had to use a commercial toilet cleaner that was “almond-scented” which was nauseating. At the same place, we were able to freely drink the fountain beverages, one of which was “Cherry Coke”—whose flavor, I realized, was exactly that of the toilet cleaner. It's interesting how cherry and almond are a very similar flavor and scent. What is repulsive, however, I think, is some low-quality, artificial almond scent—because it is not almond at all, but some reprehensible imposter, fooling many, but not me. (I feel much the same about cheap, imitation vanilla—I love real vanilla, but there is nothing on Earth worse than crappy, cheap, fake vanilla scent!) Anyway, to my surprise and delight, the almond scent in this soap turned out to be very pleasing, with a very natural, somewhat subtle yet present quality—really quite delicious. I didn't eat it, but I was tempted. Had my parents washed my mouth out with this one, I might have purposely gone on like Lenny Bruce. Anyway, this soap ended up being a pleasing love affair, the kind that starts slow and unexpectedly, lasts longer than you have any reason to expect—and ended when that last sliver slipped down the drain.

Soap Review No. 19