The Story Of Dr. Bronner's Soap Is Strange

Since we're all now much more aware of where our hands have been, you might have noticed you've touched some pretty strange things throughout your day. But if afterward, you've scrubbed your hands down with Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, then we promise it'll be the weirdest thing you've touched all week. That isn't to say anything against the soap. It's a great soap as far as we know. What makes Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps so odd is that the story of how it came to be is a Hallmark Movie on acid.

Emanuel Heilbronner was an immigrant soap-maker from Germany who chose to drop the "heil" from his name, much in the same way future generations of Americans will choose to drop the phrases "Trump," "Donald," or "Bigly" if attached to theirs. So far, nothing is out of the ordinary, until we learn that Dr. B (not a doctor by the way) had invented a Judeo-Unitarian pop religious philosophy and would put his children in foster homes for stretches of time so he could go spread his message. (We guess being a good father wasn't part of the belief system.)

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It was after a particularly heavy session of proselytizing at the University of Chicago, that he was arrested and sent to a mental institution. Fortunately for all you Bronner-heads out there, he escaped after two months and started his soap business. Bronner would give lectures of his 'All One' philosophy and would hand out free soap to the attendees. He quickly began to suspect that people were only coming to get in on all that free soap, which was either a testament to how crazy his lectures were or how good his soap was. Either way, Bronner began to print his teachings on the soap bottles, and thus a tax-exempt (for a time) religious organization/ soap company was born.

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Despite declaring bankruptcy in 1988, the company is now majorly successful and is run by Emanuel's grandsons Michael, the president, and David, the CEO (Cosmic Engagement Officer, because of course). Bronner's employs a couple of cool labor practices like capping the company's top salary at five times that of the lowest-paid warehouse worker, so maybe there's something to having your company taking a bit of an unorthodox route. Or maybe the success and good working conditions can be attributed to David being 90% magic mushroom.

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David, you see, much like his grandfather before him, is a prolific activist and has twice been arrested for protesting the limitations on the domestic production of hemp and is a frequent purveyor in all things psychedelic. The (soap) bar has been raised for handwashing heirs -- your move, Danielle Dove, and Emmanuel IrishSpring the III.

Dan is on Twitter @realdanduddy, and he also hosts The Bachelor Zone Podcast, where you can hear him give a sports-style breakdown of all things happening on The Bachelor.

Top Image: Westin Dodger/Wiki Commons

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