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Beware of radical mint enthusiasts

Some things are as boring as the dust that clings to your TV ... ... for example. If you happen to be a radical mint ... brushing your teeth might be the ... of your day.

Some things are as boring as the dust that clings to your TV screen.

Take toothpaste, for example. If you happen to be a radical mint enthusiast, brushing your teeth might be the highlight of your day. You might have the shiniest teeth in town. You might not want to interrupt your brushing for dinner ... unless the menu includes mint jelly pâté.

I remember one of my favorite comic strips, when Adam was trying so hard to diet. Of course, my memory is fading faster than my jeans, but here is roughly how it went:

FRAME ONE: Adam is sneaking back into bed, when his wife asks if he had been snacking.

FRAME TWO: She gives him a passionate kiss ... or at least as passionate as a two-dimensional, black and white cartoon character can give.

FRAME THREE: No. All "fresh and minty", she concludes.

FRAME FOUR: Adam thinks to himself: "Should be. I ate three tubes of toothpaste."

For those of us who use toothpaste for brushing, it is at best bearable. There is obviously collusion at the highest levels of the mint flavor industry to squash our democratic right to a full range of toothpaste flavors.

But what if the Big Mint stranglehold could be broken? What if brushing our teeth could become a custom-designed exhilaration? What if toothpaste came in as many flavors as, say, jelly beans?

We recently tried some new jelly bean flavors on our wedding anniversary. (Oh, come on. What could be more romantic than a romp through the jelly bean dispensers?)

The strawberry daiquiri jelly beans tasted delicious. So did the strawberry cheesecake ones. The buttered popcorn ones were so-so, but the caramel popcorn jelly beans were oh-so yummy.

We tried the chocolate fudge flavor and the chocolate pudding flavor, but we passed over the chocolate covered grasshopper flavor.

They had three kinds of melon, four flavors of apple and three different toffee flavored jelly beans. But toothpaste comes in just mint. Do I hear you say, "Conspiracy theory"?

Even Little Lady's finger paints come in eight tantalizing fruit flavors. Huh? Why would something parents try so hard to discourage kids from putting in their mouths smell like blueberries and bananas and cherries, when the toothpaste we try so hard to encourage them to put in their mouths comes in just mint.

In fairness, Little Lady's edible toothpaste (Most toothpaste is inedible – imagine that!) comes in two flavors: berry and bubble gum ... but that's not much of a choice. Surely Big Mint will soon shut down this renegade operation muscling in on their territory.

I want to see the same creativity go into toothpaste flavors as went into "Hot Fudge Sundae" Pop Tarts. Or the Plymouth Prowler retro dragster. Or those chocolate covered grasshopper jelly beans.

As I write this column from behind the wheel of my car – in a parking lot, of course – I see so many people pass by. Tall people. Short people. Thin people. Neat people. Sloppy people. Human people. Canine people. People carrying. People riding. People smiling. People frowning. If there are so many types of people, and my grocery store stocks 72 types of cereal and 37 types of crackersFree Articles, doesn't it seem just a little spooky that none of the toothpaste manufacturers are willing to stand up to Big Mint?

Variety is the spice of life. Don't let Big Mint oppress you. Don't let the mint-enthusiast bullies stifle your democratic right to free taste.

There is no conclusive evidence that a handful of pumpkin-pie-flavored jelly beans will derail your diet more than three tubes of "fresh and minty" toothpaste. So enjoy your multicultural jelly beans ... even if you are on a diet.

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The author is David Leonhardt, The Happy Guy, author of The Get Happy Workbook at and publisher of Your Daily Dose of Happiness at . This article is also viewable at .

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