COLUMN: Giving new meaning to ‘pearly white’ teeth

The inspiration for a column comes in many ways, and last week one was delivered in remarkable fashion ...

The inspiration for a column comes in many ways, and last week one was delivered in remarkable fashion, which led me first to write a short email to the supplier of the inspiration.

The text of that message, delivered to product maker Proctor and Gamble, is as follows:

It is not often a column idea pops out of a tube of toothpaste. However, this morning as I was about to brush my teeth, I squoze (past tense of squeeze?) the tube of Crest to deposit a quantity of paste on the brush. It promptly fell off. I shrugged, and delivered forth another dollop from the tube and proceeded with my brushing.

Upon completion of said task, I then tried to direct the original gob of paste that had fallen into the sink into the drain. But as I touched it with my finger, a rather large (approx. 7.5 mm diameter) pearl was revealed.

My initial reaction was that Crest had taken a page out of Cracker Jack’s book and was now offering prizes in its packages. Either that, or Crest was providing reality to the toothy term ‘pearly whites.’

However, with the deductive powers of Holmes, I determined that the pearl had a hole pierced part way through it, indicating that it was, in fact, formerly a pearl earring, minus the little metal pin.

My question to you is, would you like me to return the pearl so it can be reunited with its owner, or would Crest like to send me another so I have a matched set? (Please ensure the mounting pins are securely in place so that I don’t also lose one.)

I have yet to visit a jeweler (lawyer?) to determine my current pearl’s value.

Eagerly awaiting a prompt response to enable me to write a positive conclusion to my next column.

Apparently they saw no humour in this, as a couple of days later I received a simple reply, assuring me that the company was very sorry that something other than paste was in my tube of Crest.

They indicated they have many checks in place to ensure quality and health issues, and that they would like to evaluate the product by having me return it.

I don’t know how further evaluation could come to any other conclusion than the pearl stud merely fell off someone’s ear and into a vat of paste before it was injected into the tube (amazing what watching How It’s Made on TV can teach you).

The response also noted that in the process of evaluation, it was possible that the product would be destroyed. What a surprise!

I advised them the next day that “aside from the YUCK factor of realizing that I just brushed my teeth with marinade of ear stud, you have to agree that it is too good a story not to share with readers.

“Therefore, rather than allow the ‘evidence’ to be destroyed, as you suggest, I will retain it for the time being.”

For that reason, now safely ensconced in a drawer, is a Ziplock bag containing the “pearl” and a partially used tube of Crest, kept as proof of the above.

I never heard back from my second email indicating that decision.

Of course, if they ever read this, the folks at Proctor and Gamble may invoke the biblical “casting pearls before swine” in reference to me because, after all, for my mental dismay they did offer to send two coupons for free Crest toothpaste!

Thus a word of advice: if you ever discover something contaminating a product, even something you put in your mouth, don’t expect a financial windfall.

markrushton@abbynews.com