I found Pears’ soap a few days ago – in all places – in a Dollar Tree store for $1.00. It was the first time I’ve bought it in quite a few years and I’m not sure why. Because I love it!
Well, let me say I used to love it, but this bar is different from the Pears’ Soap I remembered. My curiosity got the best of me so I did a bit of research and found out why it doesn’t feel or smell exactly the same.
|This and all images below are vintage Pears' Soap advertising posters via Pinterest|
You see, this soap – the world’s first registered brand and therefore the world’s oldest continuously existing brand – is no longer made in England, but by a company known as Hindustan Unilever, in India.
There’s a fascinating history of the company at wikipedia, which provides a history of the company; details about how the soap is made; and why the current version is different from the original.
My memory of Pears’ dates only to the 1970s, and it’s funny how I came to find it. I was reading a horror novel (yes, I actually read that type material back then!), Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon – a New York Times bestseller that was made into a television miniseries. The novel's narrator made many references to his wife bathing with Pears’ Soap and the wonderful way she smelled following her bath.
I had to find that soap! This was in the days, of course, before ordering anything the heart desires via the Internet was possible, so I had to inquire at several pharmacies before I found it.
Once I tried it, I was sold on that transparent soap redolent with the scent of clean laundry and herbs (rosemary and thyme) from the garden. And it's such a clean and refreshing feeling after a bath with glycerin soap containing only natural ingredients.
The following quote is from the Wikipedia article:
“In October 2009 the formula for the transparent amber soap was altered from the original to become 'Gentle Care' wrapped in an inner cellophane covering. The new soap was slightly softer in texture and lasted half as long, but its most noticeable difference was its scent. The aroma of the classic transparent amber bar, which used to be characterized by a mild, spicy herbal fragrance, had been altered to a stronger aromatic scent. The "Hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic" claim was dropped because of the new ingredients. Furthermore, the 3-month aging process described on the original box does not appear on the box of the 'Gentle Care' formula, suggesting that the "improvements" were made so that the soap could be produced more quickly and with cheaper ingredients, therefore increasing profits.
On 6 January 2010, after a Facebook campaign, it was reported in the media that Pears planned to abandon the new formula and that by March 2010 a new version would be available that is "much closer to the original". On 8 January 2010, it was reported in the media that Pears would not abandon the new formula but "make further improvements, by delivering a scent that more closely resembles the original formula. However, this has not occurred.”
It’s sad when products one loves and has grown accustomed to change – all in the name of mass merchandising and higher profits.
I’ll finish the bar of Pears’ Soap but I doubt I’ll buy it again – even if it only costs one dollar.
Have you, or do you use Pears’ Soap? Do you find the current version any way comparable to the old one? What is your favorite soap and why? Please share. Thanks!