Overpriced items: toothpaste

June 2, 2020 • 2:15 pm

I’ve mentioned overpriced items before—items that seem to cost way more than they should given the ingredients and even the labor involved in their production. This group includes Starbucks lattes and specialty drinks (I buy them only when I’m away from my espresso machine of a morning), breakfast cereal (never buy it except when visitors come)—and toothpaste.

To show you how ridiculously inflated the cost of toothpaste is, here’s a tube of CVS’s generic “sensitive tooth” toothpaste, which I started using a couple of years ago when I had a crown put on my tooth and it was close to the nerve, which made the tooth sensitive. The dentist said to use Sensodyne, the brand-name equivalent of what’s below, and which, though costing more, has the same ingredients (again, always buy generics). Nevertheless, the CVS generic cost nearly SIX DOLLARS for a measly four ounces.

The “active” ingredients: potassium nitrate 5% (for sensitivity) and sodium fluoride 0.24% (for cavity prevention). All toothpastes except for special ones have about the same amount of fluoride.

Here’s my old standby: Pepsodent toothpaste. It has exactly the same percentage of sodium fluoride, a standard tube holds 5.5 ounces (38% more paste than the overpriced CVS stuff), and COSTS AROUND A DOLLAR A TUBE. It’s less than 20% the price of the CVS stuff.


When you buy the CVS stuff, you are paying around five dollars for that 5% potassium nitrate, and believe me, potassium nitrate is not that expensive (I used to run a lab and ordered chemicals). In other words, the CVS stuff is a world-class ripoff. Why do I buy it? Well, my tooth sensitivity stopped when I began using it, and I’ve just stuck with it. Now I’m thinking that I need to try a little experiment and go back to Pepsodent.

Other fancy toothpastes are also overpriced, as this article points out. Take Professor Ceiling Cat’s word here: if you don’t need whitening, and don’t suffer from sensitive teeth, or don’t need “organic” dentifrice, do yourself a favor and just buy Pepsodent. You could afford an overpriced Starbucks latte with the money you save on one tube!

What items do you think are overpriced. My ears are open.


An angry reader gets unwanted religious literature in an Amazon order

February 25, 2015 • 12:45 pm
Reader Laurie Sindoni, who is half the staff of Theo, the Espresso-Drinking Cat, sent me the email given below. She ordered some athletic clothing from a company in Germany (!) that, it seems, is the German equivalent of Chik fil A (“Hate on a Bun”). Laurie was affronted with what she received, and here is what she said:
I must share this with you because I am so angry, and if ever ANYONE needed a copy of WEIT and body parts through the post, and Theo’s coffee thrown in their faces, it’s these people!  And because I know you will empathise with me.
I ordered a pair of Nike shorts from Amazon [UK] to wear over leggings for training.  Quite straightforward; right?  My order was delivered and the shorts were fine; however, they included THIS with my order!

What the fluff?  It’s not like I ordered a bible. Or identified myself as a member of “Weight Lifters for Jesus.” I launched myself onto Amazon and sent feedback to the seller.

“Shame on you.  I ordered shorts to be worn over leggings for training and these are fine. What was NOT fine was the ‘complimentary’ literature: Christian Creationist proselytising!!! Why on earth, when I ordered training clothes, did you feel the need to ram your superstitions down the throat of a complete stranger?  I hope Amazon will, in future, prevent sellers from arbitrarily including unrelated, unsolicited and offensive material with orders.”

I then contacted Amazon and apprised them of the situation.  I was furious; but, I told them that under no circumstances do I blame Amazon for this offensive communication.  I insisted that they contact the seller regarding the impropriety of the order content.  I expressed disquiet that in having ordered from these people, I may have become an unwitting donor to a BS and fantasist organisation.  I also pointed out that there is no difference between this and receiving unsolicited jihadist material through the post.  Furthermore, the fact that I am an atheist is irrelevant because I may have been a Sikh, a Jew, a Jain, etc.  The point is that there was no guarantee their customer was a Creationist Christian living in a world of make believe.

This morning, I received an email from the seller.  Hold onto your potatoes!

“You’ll Jesus face. As a judge or as a saviour that you can choose now. It is well meant by me.  Thank you.” Oh, and [sic, sic, sic!]!

So, before heading to my back garden to dig up body parts to send, I launched myself back at Amazon. I know when the Customer Service Agent, reading through the communication, got to that reply, because he audibly gasped. I am now demanding a full refund because I am concerned about having been donating to some organisation that promotes fantasy as well as a written apology, for what I consider harassment.

Here is what Amazon said in response:

“We’ve been contacted by one of our mutual customers regarding an order placed with you.  This customer placed an order with yourselves. Upon receiving the goods the customer advises that they were also given an amount of religious literature. This is not acceptable.  Further to this the response that was given by yourselves was wholly inappropriate.  Due to this very poor experience the customer would like an apology and to be refunded for this order.  Please advise the customer as to how this can be done.  I hope you understand that the customer feels that this is harassment and from Amazon point of view, this is very much unacceptable. We hope you’re able to work this out with this customer.”

To me, it is utterly fantastic that commercial transactions can be so easily infused with religious nonsense.  And even more so that there are large segments of the population that will consider this to be ordinary behaviour.  And even acceptable. Some may go so far as to say I have overreacted in having taken offense and action. [JAC: Not I!]

OK; my rant is over.  At least until I receive another inappropriate communiqué in response to the Amazon email.

Laurie added that the company did respond:
They got back.  They said the following, “hello.  Thanks for your message.
Here are the links that Laurie sent; the company you want to avoid if you hate this proselytizing is Hoppe Schuhe in Dainrode, Germany.