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While I was packing my bags to come to Korea two years ago, I was asking my old friend Christina what all I needed to bring with me. The three major things she said were deodorant, condoms, and toothpaste.

Now, she was right about deodorant. It is darn difficult to find. I have found some women’s anti-perspirant at a convenience store, and I’ve seen the nasty Speed Stick deodorant (not anti-perspirant) that high school jocks use on sale at the black markets in Namdaemun. Yet all my personal anti-perspirant I get from care packages from my family.

Condoms are findable here and are getting moreso. Yet the quality and variety aren’t that great. That’s another item I order by mail from the U.S.

Now toothpaste. There’s no shortage of toothpaste. People are passionate about oral care in Korea. Christina recommended the toothpaste because Korean toothpaste, according to her, “tastes terrible.”

So I stocked up on toothpaste and didn’t try any Korean toothpaste for over a year. But when my first batch ran out, my girlfriend lent me hers, and it wasn’t that bad.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of toothpaste flavors. The mint flavor in mint toothpaste does not taste like mint. It tastes like nasty ass toothpaste. Why does mint flavor not really taste like mint? I don’t like chocolate chip mint ice cream because it doesn’t taste like real mint. It tastes like toothpaste with chocolate chips in it. Grape flavor doesn’t taste like the grapes I grew up with. It tastes like the grotesque purple gum that the coach gave out to everyone in little league. It’s not grape flavor. It’s purple flavor.

I had run out of my Colgate Tartar Control yet again, so I grabbed for my girlfriend’s toothpaste. I noticed it had a much more pleasant exotic taste, something I really liked. I looked on the tube and saw a picture of what looked like a pine tree. I asked her to confirm my suspicions.

“Yes, it’s pine tree flavored.”

HA!

It’s the first toothpaste I’ve tried that’s flavored as a scent rather than the taste of a food. And it is a refreshing taste and sensation. It’s not that painful Mr. Freeze feeling that Mega-Mint toothpastes attack you with. It’s smooth.

I’ve never really enjoyed a toothpaste, thus it was hard for my mother to make me brush my teeth. Brushing my teeth was a chore before. Now I look forward to being transported to a Yukon evergreen forest through my mouth whenever I brush my teeth.

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