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Arm & Hammer Responds

By Widge - posted 07.21.08 @ 1:35 pm
Arm & Hammers logo

Okay, so after my searing exposé of Arm & Hammer's seemingly weakened baking soda, while I was sitting around recuperating from yet another bout of hard-hitting white knuckled journalism, who should ping me in response: but a publicist for Arm & Hammer. I figured I had nothing better to do while sitting around and waiting for my Peabody Award, so let's see what they have to say.

I work for Arm & Hammer and wanted to quickly clarify the new 30-day messaging on the Arm & Hammer Fridge-N-Freezer box. I'm sure you know that Arm & Hammer Baking Soda has 100s of uses- from polishing silver to deodorizing your stinky gym shoes, but it is most commonly used to deodorize the fridge.

So first up I'm already on the defensive, because I'm trying to figure out how the hell they know about my gym shoes. But that's another issue.

We are telling consumers to change the box every 30 days because we've found that baking soda helps prevent taste-transfer in your refrigerator, meaning it helps keep the foods in your fridge tasting fresher longer when it is replaced each month.

When you have garlic cloves in your fridge and, say, mozzarella cheese, the garlic can overtake the mozzarella, making it taste like the garlic. But, when you place the Fridge-N-Freezer box in your refrigerator, it keeps those flavors separate from each other- preventing the taste transfer and keeping your refrigerated foods tasting the way they should.

Fair enough--further research has shown that garlicky cheese can be prevented if you buy three times the amount of our product that you did previously. Which makes sense, I guess, on the outset. But I have a problem with this. Let's conduct a thought experiment. Come with me, won't you?

First up, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is made by Church & Dwight and they've been around since 1896 as an entity--they were two companies before then. I can't seem to pin down an actual date when the Baking Soda product was introduced. But it's not like bicarbonate soda is a new thing. But to be fair, let's assume that Arm & Hammer Baking Soda has existed for a century.

Garlic has been around since The Bible, which means the scientific term for that is Really Old.

Mozzarella has been around since Cleopatra, so they say. Which means the scientific term for that is Also Really Old.

So the new kid on the block is Baking Soda. (Well, and fridges.)

So what Arm & Hammer is saying here is that after approximately a hundred years of having the product on the shelf, they've learned in the past few months that it helps with taste transfer but only if you buy it once a month. This is new news to them and a new application of the product and hey, a benefit to the consumer. I can buy that, no problem.

Although...it would kind of make the entire thing pointless if I were to find a press release from 1999 that said that "taste-transfer" was an issue, even back in those halcyon days of yore. And wait, here's a website quoting what the Arm & Hammer site used to say, that "We recommend that you replace the ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda in your fridge and freezer every 3 months to keep them smelling fresh and to prevent any taste transfer between stored foods. We can even send you a reminder via E-Mail--just check out our Reminder page."

So basically we're right back where we started. One of three things has occurred.

A) Arm & Hammer's product has gotten weaker so you need to buy three times the amount that you previously needed to avoid taste transfer

2) Food odors have somehow gotten stronger, probably due to global warming

III) Arm & Hammer (not the publicist, who was very nice and I'd like to make it clear I'm not picking on them since they were giving me Arm & Hammer's story and that's their job--but this is my job) just wants to sell three times the amount of baking soda they did in the past and figured out a way to try and do so.

You make the call.

Read More About:

Widgett Walls is Need Coffee's Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. He is the author of the novel Mystics on the Road to Vanishing Point, and two collections of short stories, Magnificent Desolation and Something Else: The Complete First Season. He is also co-author of the children's book There's a Zombie in My Treehouse! All of those books are available in paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon. He is also the narrator and publisher of the first unabridged recording of Seneca's letters, available here. He is active on both Twitter and Facebook. (If you befriend him on Facebook, do say you came via Need Coffee.) He lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He hardly ever sleeps.

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    1. 

    I vote D: an Alien Wizard Did It.

    Comment by Damien — July 21, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

    2. 

    Hmm, yes. Good call. I had neglected to factor in extraterrestrial intervention in this matter. That would explain all the black helicopters outside.

    Comment by Widge — July 21, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

    3. 

    I'd actually bet on their product being weaker. Not for certain, but I wouldn't be surprised. In the heady days of the late 1900's, we didn't know any better. We had toys -children's toys- made of metal. It's a wonder no one was killed. In the same manner, having baking soda of the caliber might have given someone AIDS. A&H can't risk it.

    Comment by Blank Mage — July 22, 2008 @ 2:40 am

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