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May 10, 2020

The Best Reason to Brush Your Teeth: Whiskey Flavored Toothpaste, ca. 1950s

Invented by Don Poynter, these novelty toothpastes really did contain a small amount of their corresponding flavors (Scotch, Bourbon, Rye…). These products enjoyed a brief but heady run for their novelty and amusement value.

In 1954, according to Messy Nessy Chic, Don secured a $10,000 bank loan and began manufacturing the best damn reason to brush your teeth twice a day: Whiskey Flavored Toothpaste.


The toothpaste was available in Bourbon and Scotch flavors and contained 3% alcohol. The product gained enough buzz that LIFE magazine did a story on it and Poynter’s invention became a popular novelty product across the country in the 1950s and ’60s. The idea was later copied by several other brands and Poynter ceased production soon after.
“An extensive test of a new whiskey-flavored toothpaste was made, comparing it with a control group using a similar formula, but without the whiskey-flavored ingredient. Researchers found that those using the whiskey-flavored toothpaste brushed their teeth after each meal, including lunch at work, — and — as many as fourteen other times during the day. The results showed that these people — using the special whiskey-flavored toothpaste — had twenty-one percent more cavities but they couldn’t care less!” – Pit & Quarry, Volume 57, 1965
Don Poynter, Bus ’49, was such a novelty on campus that any grad from the late 1940s probably has memories of him on the field as an “extra-ordinary” drum major, meaning his incredible talent was far from ordinary. So it probably came as no surprise to his classmates that he went on to carve a career for himself in many novel ways and ended up becoming famous for inventing novelty items such as: the first talking toilet seat, the first basketball backboard for a wastebasket, Jayne Mansfield’s shaped hot water bottle and the world’s smallest working record player.

Retiring in the late 1990s, Poynter has held patents on 100 or so novelty items, admittedly a nebulous number because “I never really bothered looking it up,” he said.

















(Photos by Wallace Kirkland, via LIFE archives)

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