I not-so-recently came across a bar of Jergens soap while cat-sitting (this time, not in the “North Woods,” but on “The Shore,” in a dusty old town somewhat frozen in time—I don't need to tell you that can be both a good and bad thing)—and a dusty old bar of soap like this might have come out of a dollar store multi-pack, or out of a closet; either way, I love that there is no shelf-life on soap, so you can find some old ones or ones that have the illusion of old, and either way, get slightly time-machined. I'm not sure if this is Jergens Bath Soap, Mild Soap, or Mild Bath Soap, or just Jergens, but it definitely had a distinctive smell, somewhat pleasing to me, and even more nostalgic than pleasing. Sometimes, as I always say, nostalgic and sad are two sides of the same coin. So much did it just remind me of “soap” I was tempted to leave it at that—but I decided to go deeper and consulted Internet who told me the Andrew Jergens Company was founded in 1882 in Cincinnati, Ohio. There are a lot of products that have come out of Cincinnati. I wonder if they have a museum. Anyway, 1982 is long time ago. 1882, however, is closer than you think.
The internet then redirected me to the Japanese Kao Corporation, which now owns the Jergens brand. With no way of knowing the date of manufacture, it's possible this soap actually came from any number of countries, each with its distinct culture, none of which is reflected in the bar itself. It's also possible there were ingredients used that you don't even want to know about. The next time you buy a 10-pack of soap at Walmart for under $3, consider that. Even more strange, I saw a list of brands owned by the Kao Corporation, and it shockingly almost exactly matches the early list of projected performers at next August's Lollapalooza festival—which I'll list in alphabetical order: Attack, Ban, Biore, Curel, Goldwell, Healthya, Jürgen, John Frieda, Kanebo, Kate Middleton, KMS, Laurier, Lease, Magiclean, MegRhythm, The Merries, Merit, Molton Brown, Oribe, Segreta & Sofina, and Success. Coincidence? Or just some weird Perry Farrell bullshit? Anyway, the one I really took notice of was Jürgen, wondering if that is Jürgen Fritz, keyboard player and composer with one of my favorite 1970s bands, Triumvirat. Now that I think about it, Jergens products always reminded me of Jürgen Fritz. I once listened to Triumvirat's 1974 album, Illusions on a Double Dimple, while smoking weed purported to be “Jamaican” and saw visions of the musical instruments coming from the speakers—though, now, I strongly suspect it was shitty pot laced with PCP.
Soap Review No. 36