Things sure have become complicated

Published 10:33 am Thursday, July 12, 2012

Column: Thanks for Listening

I wrote the following words back in 2005 and I will now add to them because things are getting worse and not better:


I woke up this morning to vanilla toothpaste.

You may be asking yourself what does vanilla toothpaste have to do with Scott Schmeltzer’s state of mind and why would it make him flip out?

Let me go back to a simpler time when only mint toothpaste and eight colors of crayons were offered.

You see, my general complaint is that we have too many choices.

You go to the store and there is toothpaste that comes in vanilla, orange, cinnamon and nine different kinds of mint.

Can someone tell me the difference between clean mint and luminous crystal clean mint?

It doesn’t stop there, oh no. You can have tartar control, whitening, baking soda with or without peroxide, fresh mint, cool mint, sensitive teeth mint and the list goes on and on.

I thought it was confusing enough when one could buy paste or gel, but now the selection options have just gone crazy.

When I go to the store it takes me 20 minutes to pick out plain mint toothpaste. When my wife and daughter go to the store they pick out what they think is cool. Guess what? This week vanilla was cool.

I am not knocking vanilla-flavored toothpaste for some people, but I want my mouth to be mint-fresh after I brush my teeth, not feeling like I just ate a bowl of vanilla pudding at 6 a.m.

I am trying to stay calm, but the number of choices does not stop there. We have 70-plus TV channels and there’s still nothing worth watching.

When I was younger, we had three TV channels, but somehow shows like “Gunsmoke,” “The Waltons,” “Happy Days” and “The Andy Griffith Show” were on. (Rest in Peace Andy Griffith)

Today if you turn on the TV, you get sex combined with smut on one channel and smut combined with sex on the other.

The only channel good for kids to watch is whatever channel reruns all the shows that were popular when we were kids.


As I mentioned above, I will tell you why things have not gotten any better.

Chewing gum.

Simple thing to buy right? Wrong. Back in the day, which was a Wednesday by the way, we had Bazooka bubble gum, Wrigley’s Double Mint gum and also Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit. Big Red came along a bit later so I will add that in the mix as well. We had four choices* of gum, and we were all perfectly happy.

Not anymore. We have Extra, Stride, Eclipse, Orbit and the list goes on and on. Not only do they have a thousand different names, but also they all taste different. They now have strawberry, orange, vanilla, chocolate, blueberry and again the list is endless.

Can we please just simplify buying gum?

The final straw came a couple weeks ago at a store and I saw that Extra is now peddling “dessert gum.” It is gum that tastes like rainbow sherbet, mint chocolate chip ice cream, bananas Foster and key lime pie. So now gum is replacing dessert. This is un-American. Pretty soon, we will all just buy gum as our everyday food.

“Hey, can I have a stick of meatloaf-with-mashed-potatoes-and-gravy gum?” And then after that I will wash it down with some strawberry shortcake gum and a stick of milk. Yum.

Please let’s just go back to a simpler time when gum was minty, and we used it so we could attract and talk to the opposite sex after our toothpaste mint breath ran out about noon.

Are fewer choices so bad, I ask?

*I did not count the gum we received in baseball cards in the above flashback as I consider that not to be real gum as it only lasted about 13 seconds for both taste and consistency.


Benefit for Bob

Please join me from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday at Green Lea Golf Course for a benefit to support Bob Sturtz, who suffered a stroke in March in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

He is a great guy and a super Minnesota Vikings fan.


Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.