Dial BASICS – HypoAllergenic

“Mrs. White”

This soap is the gold standard of blandness, and if you know me, you know that I have a kind of perverse fascination with the extremes of dull—ordinary, plain, run-of-the-mill, etc.—which can best be summed up with the word bland. Just the word, bland, is kind of exotic and evocative, I think, in its own way, which is an interesting contradiction. So probably if you were sent out to the biggest “gots-everything” chainstore, dead in the middle of the USA, and told to buy a soap that wasn't going to freak anyone out, you might buy some Dial soap—the soap of mid-priced hotels in little wrapped bars. It's white, has no smell, and evokes absolutely nothing but “bar soap.” Which, of course, could be somewhat nostalgic in its own way.

Dial was introduced post-war as America's first anti-bacterial soap—a “germ killer,” in that time when a not-so-subtle correlation was implied between germs and Germans. It is also a symbol of the post-war blanding of America. The anti-bacterial agent, hexachlorophene, was later found to cause neurological damage in infants. I remember the somewhat passive-aggressive Dial advertisements: “Aren't you glad you use Dial? (Don't you wish everybody did?)”

While there are as many “flavors” of Dial as LaCroix water, now out there somewhere (some of which I might try, later, for their loopy potential), I like this absolute most personality-less version as a bland extreme, and its claim of “Dermatologist Tested”—which always makes me laugh, as I imagine a sleazy, fly-by-night “licensed dermatologist” who takes a cash payment to sign a few “official” documents. I'm nicknaming this one “Mrs. White” because she is the most boring character in the CLUE board-game—but also, if you play Clue, you know the murderer is always Professor Plum, but if it's not, it's Miss Scarlet, but on the rare occasion when you know it's neither of those, you can absolutely bet without a doubt that the murderer is Mrs. White.

Soap Review No. 9