WTF Fun Fact 13040 – The Oldest Toothpaste

We tend to think of ancient people as having horrible tooth decay. In fact, it’s often referred to went talking about their shorter lifespans. But it turns out that toothpaste (and teeth cleaning generally) is an ancient concept. The oldest toothpaste comes from Egypt.

Ancient toothpaste

Dental hygiene has always been of relative importance. People who lived thousands of years ago may not have had twice-yearly dental cleanings, but they did have bristled toothbrushes and toothpaste.

According to Open Culture (cited below): “not only did ancient people use toothbrushes, but it is believed that ‘Egyptians… started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000 BC,’ even before toothbrushes were invented.”

The world’s oldest toothpaste recipe

According to The Telegraph, in 2003, the oldest toothpaste formula (so far) was found at a Viennese museum. It dates from the 4th century AD. The Egyptian papyrus (which is written in Greek) “describes a ‘powder for white and perfect teeth’ that, when mixed with saliva, makes a ‘clean tooth paste.'”

It requires:
1 drachma of rock salt (about one-hundredth of an ounce)
2 drachmas of mint
1 drachma of dried iris flower
20 grains of pepper

The ingredients are to be crushed and mixed together.

Dental hygiene surprises

Rock salt, mint, and pepper are probably not a recipe for the most pleasant experience for your gums, but it would be refreshing.

Once we get into the middle ages, we start to see things like charms and amulets used for dental health – so at least ancient Egyptian toothpaste would remove some germs.

Dental health care is also described in Gilbertus Anglicus’ 13th-century Compendium of Medicine. It advises rubbing teeth with a cloth to remove “corrupt matter.”

It’s pretty clear that people have long understood the importance of dental hygiene for health.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Try the Oldest Known Recipe For Toothpaste: From Ancient Egypt, Circa the 4th Century BC” — Open Culture

WTF Fun Fact 12817 – The Nurdle

The word nurdle is used in a few different ways. But today we’re going to look at its use to describe the squirt of toothpaste that you squeeze out onto your toothbrush.

How did “nurdle” come to be?

According to “verbal branding pro” Nancy Friedman’s blog Fritinancy (cited below): “The word, of unknown origin but possibly related to nodule, was reportedly coined by the American Dental Association in the 1990s to educate the public about proper brushing technique. The word is spelled “nerdle” in an August 19, 1996, St. Louis Post-Dispatch article quoted in Double-Tongued Dictionary, but the spelling has since been standardized as ‘nurdle.'”

But the word really came to the fore in 2011 when GlaxoSmithKline (which makes Aquafresh “Triple Protection” toothpaste) and Procter & Gamble (which makes Colgate) reached a settlement over its use in their marketing campaigns, with specific reference to the tri-colored nurdle that’s depicted on their boxes.

Both companies have invested money in the depiction and use of the word. Aquafresh used to have a site for children called Nurdle World, and Aquafresh ran a site called The Nurdle Shmurdle – though both have been taken down.

Other uses of the word

Friedman’s blog also describes another use of the word: “Nurdle is also used in the plastics industry to describe pea-size plastic resin pellets. When released from inland factories, the pellets often make their way into coastal waterways and even the deeper oceans, where they pose an ongoing threat to marine animals that mistake the pellets for food. According to a 2001 study of Orange County (California) beaches, nurdles made up 98 percent of ocean debris. See, for example, this 2007 article about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

We’ll be honest. We’ve never heard of a nurdle, and the blob on our toothbrush doesn’t look nearly as nice and nurdle-y as the one depicted on any toothpaste box. Still, we’ll never be able to brush our teeth without thinking of a nurdle again.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Word of the Week: Nurdle” — Fritinancy