Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox


Does anyone remember Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap? Actually, it’s still around, so it’s possible you use it. Back in my hippie days everyone bought it. Bronner claimed that you could use it for practically anything. Wash the dishes, wash your hair, wash your body in the shower, brush your teeth, wash your car, your dog … anything that needed washing. We always had some around. (I drew the line at brushing my teeth with it; too strong peppermint taste.) But the greatest thing about it was the label on the plastic bottle. It was jammed full of Dr. Bronner’s loony (but harmless and peaceful) “All-One-God-Faith” and “Moral ABCs” philosophy. (And it still is.) What was fun was to get stoned and pass the bottle around letting everyone try to read it without giggling. Of course, if you were stoned enough you could giggle reading the phone book, but this was the real stuff. I’d probably giggle even now, when it’s been 40 years since I got stoned. Doc Bronner would string 20 words together with hyphens, and he must have worn out the ! key on his typewriter. The Doc died in 1997, but his legacy is continued by his son Ralph, who travels around the country promoting it, and is one of the most amiable, friendly men I’ve ever seen on film. Nobody’s a stranger to Ralph; in ten seconds he will get to know you. This is a man who has spent his whole life in the shadow of his totally dominant father, and doesn’t seem to mind it at all. We see Ralph on his travels, and we visit the small factory where they make the soap to the original, all-pure recipe, and everybody seems happy. I don’t think I could have stood the man, who appears in many clips and was a go-getter to the point of mania. He was in fact committed to a mental hospital in 1947 and given shock treatments. But we enjoyed this film. And, by the way, it’s damn good soap.