Read the label on most soaps and you’ll find a few words about freshness and lather. But pick up a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s and you’ll read this: “Whatever unites us is greater than whatever divides us! … Only if constructive-selfish work, perfecting first me, like every arctic owl-penguin-pilot-cat-swallow-beaver-bee, can I teach the Moral ABC.”
It goes on. And on. Hundreds of these tiny, preachy, semi-coherent phrases cover every inch of the bottle. All of them are the work of late visionary Emanuel Bronner, a German-Jewish soap maker who escaped Hitler, then came to America to preach his vision of a unified mankind. Bronner’s mystical rantings landed him in a mental institution (he escaped that, too), after which the good doctor (who wasn’t really a doctor) started selling his family-recipe peppermint soap to finance his itinerant sermonizing—only to begin printing his sermons on the label once he realized people were more into his soap than his teachings.