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Botot Anise Toothpaste
Anise- and ginger-scented anti-cavity toothpaste. Refreshing and a great alternative to mint. Originally formulated for Louis XV of France. Made in Italy. (more info)
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In World War II, when English spies parachuted into the fields of France, disguised as Frenchmen, they would land armed with chocolate-covered garlic to make their breath more authentic. They’d obviously never come face-to-face with a user of Botot toothpaste.
Had they smelled the breath of someone using Botot, they would have smelled the refreshing scent of anise and ginger, and more likely have been reminded of a springtime field outside Aix-en-Provence. Botot was originally invented for King Louis XV in 1755. It was the first ever paste rather than powder, and while the natural flavors have remained the same, the ingredients have been updated to make the toothpaste anti-plaque, antibacterial and anti-cavity.
Anise is a flavor common to France, echoed in the black liquorice delightfully eaten by French children, and Pastis, the liquor often found between chuckles of old French men sitting outside cafes. The ginger gives it that little bit of sting to get things woken up in there. The toothpaste was recognized by the Royal Society of Medicine in 1785. And yes, and it’s been coming out of the tube a bright pink color since then.
In 1755, Dr. Julien Botot first invented this paste, the secret ingredients were fit for a King at a time when a weekly bath was a luxury and most people’s breath smelled, well, like chocolate-covered garlic. In 1789, Louis XVI gave the toothpaste the monarch’s official endorsement — just before the French Revolution. It may have been one of the last acts of the last reigning king of France, who was eventually guillotined. So much for that.
Simply squeeze onto your toothbrush and brush from left to right, for about 3 minutes. Best to brush after every meal, though twice a day is sufficient for properly clean teeth.
This toothpaste — naturally pink with herbs and spices — is surprisingly refreshing and a nice alternative to bracing mints.
Through his hard work as a doctor and inventor Julien was a proper member of the rich, powerful but un-titled Bourgeoisie. His descendants achieved illustrious careers in politics, later working with Robespierre and Napoleon to take down the royal family — ironically the very family that first gave its stamp of approval to the toothpastes and elixirs that made their family wealthy.
Julien passed the company down to his nephew, Francois Botot, who quickly resold it to his sister, Marie-Sophie. It’s her signature on every bottle and tube, writing Cui fidas vide, meaning “watch whom you trust.” A little cryptic for dental hygiene products, but we’ll take her words of wisdom in the morning nonetheless.
Besides the antibacterial zing of anise and ginger, the formula also contains silica (horsetail plant — also a natural healer with antibacterial enzymes), cellulose gum (derived from the cell walls of plants), calcium carbonate, and sodium sulfate, which is a natural cleaner. The hydrate of sodium sulfate is known as Glauber's Salt after the German chemist and apothecary Johann Rudolf Glauber discovered it in 1625 in Austrian spring water. He named it sal mirabilis (miraculous salt), because of its medicinal properties.
Botot contains sodium monofluorophosphate, a type of flouride — currently the only ingredient recognized by U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent cavities. Don’t swallow globs of the stuff.
Sodium monofluorophosphate, Tom’s of Maine Research
Chocolate-covered garlic is only one in the fantastic arsenal of WWII spies: Pandora’s Briefcase, The New Yorker
2.5 fl oz (75 ml)
Anis and ginger