Roughly from November, 1988 to January 1989, I noticed a primitive advertisement being infrequently broadcast on local television. The film stock was grainy, and I remember something about a family forming a conga line and dancing in or around a large bathroom setting to the product jingle.
The product being sold was a line of (weird-for-the-time) lemon-flavored toothpaste and oral care products called “NOMEL” (“Lemon” spelled backward). From what little I remember from 30 seconds of fuzzy advertising, “NOMEL’S” selling point was that it was “all natural” (Baby Boomers were just beginning to mainstream health food products in the late 1980’s), presumably an alternative to the harsh, chemico-minty brands of toothpaste which dominate the marketplace to this day.
All that I remember about the jingle was that it was a rip-off or rewriting of Ary Barroso’s classic song “Brazil” featuring that “Dunt-dunt-dunt/dunt-dunt-de-dunt-dunt” tropical rhythm. The few lyrics I remember go something like this:
To freshen breath and clean your teeth/
NOMEL is what you need . . .”
As a college student who was somewhat required to study advertising, the raw, low-budget quality of the spot suggested to me that someone with a lot of imagination and little money was out there daring to directly compete with the mammoth personal care product companies by formulating, manufacturing, and marketing (of all things) their own local toothpaste brand. As a casual fan of kitsch, it was mildly amusing cheezy fun, like some scratchy old advertisement from the 1960’s.
Moreover, this “NOMEL” thing had a D.I.Y. weirdness to it which appealed to the Punk Rock fan in me. At that time, it seemed that toothpaste and mouthwash were the exclusive province of large corporations (Tom’s of Maine, as far as I know, wasn’t yet sold in Louisville). There was “Indie” music and “Indie” publication, but who had ever heard of an “Indie” toothpaste? It is this peculiar brand of fearless creative energy which we promote at “MAN-O-PAUSE”, particularly in my own personal mission to turn passive fangirls and fanboys into active innovators and artists.
That winter of 1989, I looked through my local drug and grocery stores in a semi-frantic attempt to try this weird lemon toothpaste, but no one else had so much as heard of it. Soon thereafter, the advertisements disappeared from the television. Did “NOMEL” ever make it to retail shelves?
I wish to interview the people who created and marketed “NOMEL” for a possible front cover “NOMEL” issue. IF YOU WERE INVOLVED WITH THE MAKING AND MARKETING OF “NOMEL” ORAL CARE PRODUCTS, AND ARE RECEPTIVE TO AN INTERVIEW EITHER ON OR OFF OF THE RECORD, OR IF YOU HAVE ANY TUBES, BOTTLES, DISPLAYS, ADVERTISING, OR OTHER “NOMEL” EPHEMERA FOR DONATION OR REASONABLE SALE, PLEASE CONTACT ME ON THIS BLOG, OR OTHERWISE AT:
c/o MAN-O-PAUSE Magazine
P.O. Box 234
Floyd’s Knobs, Indiana 47119
Please include “NOMEL” in the subject heading of your communication, if pertinent.
P. KERZEY, CO-EDITOR