Merch Review

Judging The Grateful Dead Deodorants On Their Taste, Among Other Things

I’ve never intentionally listened to the Grateful Dead. I’m sorry. I thought it would be better to admit that fact immediately rather than try to write around it. We all have musical blindspots, and I believe the Dead would want you to forgive me and love me, even though they are one of mine. “We’re all one light in this crazy ol’ world,” as I imagine they once said. “Buckle on up and take a ride on the open mind train, ‘cause babe we’ve all got some band we never put on intentionally, though we do know several of their songs from the radio.” Ah, I love that one.

And anyway, this is about deodorant, which is something I do know about; I wear it almost every day. “I didn’t know the Grateful Dead made … products?” a friend said, after I told him I was wearing a Grateful Dead deodorant. But it’s true that they do: they make deodorant. Or they’ve at least lended their name to a deodorant, which is something few jam bands can say. (Again I’m assuming.)

The brand North Coast Organics manufactures the deodorant in small batches using USDA-certified organic, vegan ingredients. And “lucky” for me, the deodorants are also boasted to be edible. They come in five flavors, and I was fortunate enough to test them all. I’ve judged them all here on several rubrics: “scent,” “taste,” “does it work as deodorant,” and “does it remind me of the Grateful Dead.” Let’s just get right into it.

Skull & Roses

Scent: Pleasant, like lavender and rose. The lavender might be the more predominant scent. 

Taste: I guess my main curiosity with the deodorants was whether they would taste like their scents, or like something else. (I am also curious about their nutritional value, however this was not made explicitly clear on the packaging and I was unable to deduce it myself, although the ingredients — coconut oil, arrowroot powder, shea butter, essential oils, etc. — were listed and a better person might have been able to figure it out. How long could I live on this deodorant, if necessary? I suppose with things as they are I might have to find out eventually and will provide an update at that time.) 

I found that this deodorant did taste like its scent, almost exactly. It tasted like “the scent of rose and lavender essential oils, mixed with shea butter.” Not like a “food,” exactly, but it was at least familiar. The texture was disturbing. Again, it was almost exactly like what you’d expect the texture of a natural deodorant to be — chalky, powdery, like you were eating deodorant for a website. I wouldn’t recommend it.
 
Does it work as deodorant: The directions say to apply it “as needed,” which is I think the best you can hope for with a natural deodorant. It worked for a night, but I would not trust it for a longer situation without reapplying. That’s life with a natural deodorant. Let me see if I can find a Grateful Dead quote that applies. Okay — here’s one. “Every silver lining’s got a touch of grey.” And isn’t that true?

Does it remind me of the Grateful Dead: I had to look up what the reference was, and apparently “Skull & Roses” is the fan nickname given to the Grateful Dead’s titular album, Grateful Dead. It did not remind of the Grateful Dead for that reason, because I did not know it until now, but learning that the band’s fans have been forced to give a name to an essentially nameless album does remind me that I am against giving your album your band’s name. Just think of a new name.

Sunshine

Scent: The stated scent is “Blood Orange and Bergamot,” and I would say the actual scent is “citrus.”

Taste: Hmm. Okay, yes — the thing about the deodorant is for your first few seconds of mushing it between your tongue and teeth all you get is the sense that you’re eating deodorant, but then after a few seconds you get the taste. This one is like a less bitter citrus rind. When I’m left to subsist on deodorant later, I’ll save it for when I want something “refreshing.”

Does it work as deodorant: Again the answer is sort of. I do want to note that, as the deodorant’s box says, the deodorant gets melty when it’s hot in your apartment. It smushed all over its container when I attempted to put it on. The box suggests putting it in the fridge, and I guess since I’ve also eaten it I might as well. 

Does it remind me of the Grateful Dead: I see this one is likely a reference to the song “Sunshine Daydream.” I wonder why they didn’t call it that? Maybe because they also have a song called “Here Comes The Sunshine.” “Who Loves The Sun?” the Velvet Underground asked, and the answer seems to be the Grateful Dead. And I suppose sunshine does remind me of them. Or their fans, at least. A bunch of people in tie-dye … doing drugs in the sunshine.

Timber

Scent: I was most excited about this scent because I love feeling like I live in the woods. Weirdly, although it is made up of a combination of essential oils including Douglas Fir and Scotch Pine, the scent I pick up most is lemongrass (which is also included in the essential oil blend). Is that interesting to you? Let’s see if it tastes more like tree or lemongrass. 

Taste: Definitely sort of an oddly sweet, candied lemongrass taste. More of a dessert deodorant.

Does it work as deodorant: I’ll say that if my significant other used this deodorant and we were going somewhere for the day I’d be like, oh, do you want me to keep it in my purse?

Does it remind me of the Grateful Dead: The idea of trees definitely reminds me of the Grateful Dead, because the Grateful Dead reminds me of driving recklessly through the woods in high school with a bunch of idiots. Not that the Grateful Dead are idiots — I don’t know them — but people in high school tend to be. So I guess the answer is yes. 

Workingman’s

Scent: This one says it’s “Cedar and Juniper,” and in fact those are the only two essential oils used in its creation. I guess it smells like them, though embarrassingly I’m not sure I know what juniper smells like offhand, though I do know it is used in the creation of gin. I guess I would say this smells bright and herbaceous. 

Taste: I think it sort of tastes like if they made an edible weed crayon, but it didn’t have weed in it; if it was just sort of an idea of the flavor. 

Does it work as deodorant: As much as the others. 

Does it remind me of the Grateful Dead: This one has no Grateful Dead resonance for me personally, though I guess maybe the weed taste should. I’m not even particularly sure why it would be for a workingman. Do workingmen like cedar? I’m not sure. 

Unscented

Scent: It is “unscented,” but the scent memory it evokes for me is sort of like … a store? Like a store I went in when I was young? I’m not sure if this helps you.
 
Taste: Hmm. It tastes like plain wax. 

Does it work as deodorant: I have to say I tested each of these deodorants and this is the only one that lasted for a significant chunk of time. I’m not sure why that would be. It’s very curious. But as the Grateful Dead once said … let me see here … “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places, if you look at it right.” And indeed, the light was shown to me here, in “Unscented” flavor.

Does it remind me of the Grateful Dead: My idea of the Grateful Dead is not one of a perfume attempting to cover a scent, but either a relaxed scentlessness or a natural smelliness. Therefor I believe this is the ideal Grateful Dead deodorant. Thank you, I’m glad to be finished eating my deodorant (for now), and, please, “keep truckin’ on.”