Brow Beat

Why Chocolate Toothpaste Seems Like a Bad Idea

Courtesy of P&G

This week, the media worked itself into a lather—as it is wont to do—over news that Crest will be releasing a chocolate-flavored toothpaste in early February. Mint Chocolate Trek will be one of three flavors in the Crest Be line, and Procter and Gamble promises that its “rich, creamy cocoa flavor … provides an indulgent and decadent experience.”*

There are a few reasons journalists and bloggers have glommed onto Crest’s chocolate toothpaste as fodder for articles. An important one is that it’s been a really slow news week. A second is that chocolate, like bacon, is perceived as a universally beloved food, and therefore stories about chocolate are assumed to appeal to a wide audience. A third, I wager, is that even if you are crazy about chocolate, chocolate-flavored toothpaste sounds gross.  

Why is this? Chocolate, like red wine and black tea, is rich in tannins. Tannins are compounds that give food an astringent flavor and make your mouth feel dry. Even heavily sweetened chocolate has a bitter, mouth-puckering aftertaste that makes you want to drink water (or just eat more chocolate) to get it out of your mouth. It is a far cry from the tingly sensation that makes minty toothpaste feel good against your teeth and gums.

Crest’s new toothpaste is formulated not to leave a tannic flavor in your mouth. “The Crest Be Mint Chocolate Trek does not actually include any cacao,” a PR rep for P&G assured me in an email. “It is only a flavoring and P&G utilized proprietary flavoring and cooling technology that delays the onset of the mint allowing the chocolate to make the first impression that then leaves you with a minty fresh feeling by the time you finish brushing your teeth.”

But an early reviewer of Crest’s Mint Chocolate Trek for Today reports, “we didn’t have that clean-mouth feeling afterwards.” Since that clean-mouth feeling is the main reason people brush their teeth, this doesn’t bode well for Crest Be. I, for one, would rather eat some chocolate and then brush my teeth than try to multitask.

Correction, Jan. 31, 2014: This post originally misspelled “Procter and Gamble.” Return to the corrected sentence.