By Paul Lukas

From the pages of BEER FRAME

The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption. No.5

(160 St. John’s Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217

$2 per issue; payable to Paul Lukas)

We all know we’re supposed to floss, but lots of us don’t get around to it as often as we should, myself included. That might change, however, if more people become aware of Glide, the first dental floss I’ve ever encountered that makes flossing genuinely enjoyable.

It all starts, as so many consumer pleasures do, with the packaging. Unlike most floss dispensers, which look like they took about five minutes to design, the Glide dispenser is clearly the product of some serious creative thought. With its attractively contoured edges and clever little “feet” at the base, the Glide package is a modernist treat that’s extremely difficult to resist; if it’s possible for dental floss to be seductive, then that’s what this is. But while most seductions promise more than they deliver, Glide only gets better as you go along. Pop open the appealingly angled lid and the true genius of this package design is revealed: a small, tinted window providing a view into the dispenser’s interior. In addition to letting you see precisely how much Glide you have left, this feature also allows you to watch the floss spool rotate as you pull more Glide out of the dispenser, which looks very cool indeed.

Glide came to my attention via the enthusiastic recommendation of Gretchen Stoeltje of San Francisco, who describes the dispenser’s curves as “voluptuous.” She says Glide “is made of some undoubtedly toxic petroleum product that’s just a whole lot smoother to floss with than waxed cotton, plus it tastes and smells exactly like Tic Tacs.” She’s right, and not just about the Tic Tac reference–Glide, which looks and feels like more of a film than a string, really does make for a more pleasant, less irritating flossing experience. Unlike normal floss, which tends to shred and leave behind little fibers when confronted with closely spaced teeth, Glide just, uh, glides right through even the tightest of dental crevices. It’s also very easy on the gums–almost soothing, in fact.

As for the toxic-petroleum deal, well, Gretchen didn’t quite get that part right. I called W.L. Gore & Associates’ consumer-response line and learned that Glide is actually made from a polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene, which has nothing to do with petroleum but happens to be made from the same stuff used in the company’s Gore-Tex rainwear products. When I asked the phone rep if poly-whatsis might possibly be toxic, she responded, “Oh, heavens no. It’s FDA-approved!” But when you consider that this is the same FDA that happily lets us eat such chemistry-class concoctions as Spam and Slim Jims, I can’t say this sounds like a particularly strong vote of confidence. If I were running W.L. Gore, I’d keep all this polymer info safely under wraps and just concentrate on playing up the Tic Tac angle. (W.L. Gore & Associates, 1500 N. Fourth St., Flagstaff, AZ 86003.)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited magazine cover.