Sort of Proustian, really

Germolene ointment. Not pink any more
Germolene used to be pink. It was famously pink. People used to call it ‘pink ointment’. For generations the distinctive colour and thick, putty-like texture defined the whole category. Everybody had a tin. I bet your Mum rubbed Germolene on your various cuts and scrapes when you were a kid. So what happened? It’s not pink any more, that’s for sure. It’s white, just like all the other antiseptic creams (still smells the same, though).

Research, I suppose, showed that people expect their ointment to be white. Not pink. So the manufacturer decided that it would be cheaper to reengineer the product completely than to invest in communicating the idea of… er… pinkness. Cheaper to cave in to fashion and dump the brand’s number one attribute than to make positive use of its uniqueness and its history to produce the association “healing = pink”. So Germolene is now just one of dozens of ointments that all look exactly the same. I think that’s sad.

Update. Oh bollocks. Obviously you can still buy the pink stuff (sort of slightly bitter thanks to AlexS for pointing this out). It’s not thick and treacly like pink Marmite any more, though, and you can’t buy it in handy tins…

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  1. Does it still smell the same?

    On the thankfully rare occasions that I get a whiff of root beer I’m transported back to the days of grazed knees and the application of Germolene.

  2. I think many people make this ‘mistake’ (my sister works in Boots). The pink stuff is (rather confusingly) in the blue packaging and is called ‘antiseptic ointment’ rather than cream; I don’t think they do the tins now though.

  3. Have to say, you really get some great Google ads with your posts – Dry itchy red sore skin? Effective natural relief for eczema psoriasis, dermatitis and dry skin

  4. When I was younger up through 20s I used to use Pink Ointment to cure many skin irritations. (Now in late 60s) I was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas USA and have been wondering what happened to the Pink Ointment. A year ago or so I bought some similar ointment that was called Blue Star Ointment which smells the same and seems to work the same.

    I remember one time when in the Navy I got a small circular irritation that was identified as ring worm. I put Pink Ointment on it for some time and it went away.

    I am wondering if Germolene is the same thing? By the way I found this Blog using Google. Thanks for your input.

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