There aren’t any slick commercials or campaigns advertising Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. And yet, you’ve probably heard of the product.
The soap is different – some might say a little weird. The most memorable feature isn’t the soap itself; it’s the labels, which are packed with over 3,000 words about “God’s Spaceship Earth,” Mohammed, Jesus, the Marxist welfare state, arctic timberwolves and more.
The quasi-religious rants on the labels were written by the company’s founder, Emanuel “Emil” Bronner, an eccentric man who started by selling his liquid peppermint soap to people who would first listen to his soapbox lectures about uniting humanity. When he realized that more people were showing up to buy the soap than listen to what he had to say, he started printing the main tenets of his philosophy right on the labels.
In our latest episode of “I Made it in San Diego,” VOSD’s podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them, Emil’s grandson David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s, talks about how the family’s company has grown from a quirky sideshow soap with a cult following to a multimillion-dollar brand that folks can find at places like Target.
David Bronner said the first big boom happened in the ’60s, when the rising hippie counterculture embraced the soap, both for its messages of love and unity and for its sustainable, organic ingredients.
“My granddad’s message just caught fire and became the soap of a generation,” he said.