Flashback Friday — “Often a Bridesmaid but Never a Bride”

What do you think of when you hear the word Listerine? You probably think of fresh breath, a healthier mouth, and whiter teeth. Does the phrase, “Often a Bridesmaid but Never a Bride,” come to mind?  You’re probably thinking of Katherine Heigl and 27 Dresses, but I’m sure you didn’t know that this catchy phrase originated with Listerine. It’s true, in 1923  Listerine came out with this phrase to explain why girls in the 1920’s were left on the shelf instead of out on dates with men. The 1920’s were a very different time from today, it was more important to settle down and start a family. So, Listerine capitalized on the fact that as young women age, there was a simple answer as to why they couldn’t find “the one”. They even came up with a story about a young girl named Edna.

“Poor Edna was getting on for thirty and most of her girlfriends were either already married, or about to tie the knot. How she wished that, instead of being their bridesmaid, she could be the bride! However, any romance of hers invariably ended quickly. There was a reason. Unbeknownst to her, she suffered from bad breath and no one would tell her, not ever her closest friends.”

Essentially Listerine wanted all of the single women to believe the reason they couldn’t find a man to settle down with was because they had bad breath and none of their friends wanted to tell them. It worked on Listerine’s end; they sold millions of bottles of mouthwash. Was it the answer for the women who tried the product?  I guess we will never know, but it did give Listerine a breath of fresh air in the mouthwash world!


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