In honor of Silly Strawberry Toothpaste‘s 25th Birthday, we thought it would be fun to get the Silly backstory from de facto company historian Pam.
Pam was in her second year at Tom’s, working in product development with co-founder Kate Chappell. Pam and Kate were both moms and kept hearing people clamoring for a natural fluoride toothpaste for kids. Most kid’s oral care products used artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or sweeteners. Tom’s had been making effective, great tasting natural toothpastes for adults, so the challenge was transferring that knowledge to something kids would love.
The Kid Brushing Challenge? Taste and Texture!
Using Tom’s natural standards in place since 1970—no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives—Pam went to work finding a toothpaste kids would want to use! Kids found mint toothpastes “too spicy,” so she focused on natural fruit flavors. She tried dozens of combinations of cherry, grape, pineapple, orange, strawberry, and bananas, and asked friends and family to give feedback on the flavors. The team discovered the natural flavors kids liked the best were more of a yogurt taste and less a candy flavor, and landed on a blend of strawberry and banana. They also reported the blend didn’t taste processed; it was smooth, not gritty or sandy, and the natural flavors made their mouths feel clean and had a nice, fresh aftertaste.
With little fanfare, our first kids toothpaste grew, Sesame Street came to film at the factory, and two kids books were published about Tom’s of Maine’s toothpaste. Shortly after the product was launched, it received the American Dental Association seal of approval and in short order Silly Strawberry was getting rave reviews. It’s 25 years later, and it still is.
Happy Birthday Silly Strawberry, we’re so glad you were born!
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