Les souvenirs

Mini Toothbrush DispenserWhen you think of souvenirs, you probably think of kitschy items like snow globes, seashell picture frames or Eiffel Tower key chains. I remember how important such mementos were to the kids when they were small. That coveted item, shark’s tooth or baseball cap, took pride of place on their dresser before being relegated to the memory boxes that still gather dust in our basement.

Now, our souvenirs tend to be digital. These bits of digital flotsam and jetsam that help us to remember where we were and when, what we did and chose to record. A photo shared on Facebook or emailed to family members, an update or a post about something we saw.

Thinking back on our holiday in Corsica two years ago, this unlikely image came to mind. On a scale of importance, how would you rate a mini-toothbrush dispenser in a restaurant bathroom? It seemed incongruous to say the least, given the French propensity for strong flavours in food and cigarettes (although perhaps those things offer an explanation for the market niche). But given the low priority dental hygiene is generally afforded in France, it was unexpected.

It went against all reasonable expectations of things you would find aux toilettes: Condoms, feminine hygiene supplies, even cigarettes all struck me as more plausible items compared to the (relative) superfluity of a mini-toothbrush dispenser. Presumably it was designed for date nights, as nothing kills the mood more than garlic breath or a bit of spinach in the teeth!

Even odder was the attempt to turn the experience of brushing one’s teeth into a mood memory, with choices ranging from ‘sexy’ to ‘pensive’. I did not try the machine, so cannot say whether the prepared brush with its dollop of toothpaste provided a satisfying experience. I tried to find out more about these dispensers through the usual search methods, by Google only rendered a link to a patent describing the invention, and one other in Le Parisien, mentioning the introduction of the machines to certain restaurants.

As souvenirs go, this photo was hardly emblematic of our stay on the beautiful island, which is why it was relegated to a folder of B-roll pictures. But the image stayed with me as a souvenir in the French sense: a memory, something you take away from an experience that lingers in your mind like a perfume.

Et toi? What is your most unusual souvenir of a summer holiday?


  1. jetgirlcos · August 13, 2015

    mini-toothbrushes! Who knew? I probably would have bought one, myself 🙂 One of my favorite “souvenirs” of our France trip was going shopping with my friend in Provence, being able to tag along and see this special bit of her everyday world, meeting her butcher, baker, vegetable and fruit seller, all those things which she does everyday, but which are magical to me.

    • MELewis · August 13, 2015

      It really is the little things, isn’t it? Even the everyday becomes exotic when it’s different to your own experience. Thanks for sharing your souvenir!

  2. davidprosser · August 13, 2015

    Holiday. What is that word please? The toothbrush machine at least has a use. I vsited the loo in a pub a short time ago and was shocked to see the price of three balloons in a machine. Even more surprising was who the heck needs a flavoured balloon?
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · August 13, 2015

      Lol. You are in fine form for someone who clearly needs to be reminded of what a holiday feels like! Hope you get some – vacation, bien sûr! – sooner than later. Bises xo

  3. wanderingcows · August 13, 2015

    I’m additionally intrigued by the toothbrush names!

    • MELewis · August 13, 2015

      Yes, they are rather intriguing. Leaves me wondering, though: is it possible to feel creative, intuitive or passionate in the act of tooth brushing? May hold a clue to the mysteries of the French pysche!

      • Suzanne et Pierre · August 13, 2015

        Good observation by Wandering Cows as I hadn’t seen it at first. Those names are very strange to be associated with a toothbrush…I truly don’t see the link. I can get that toothbrushes could be distributed in a WC though I haven’t many people brushing their teeth in a public environment…a bit personal. It is always good to notice these strange things…(Suzanne)

  4. Osyth · August 13, 2015

    Takes the concept of a mood ring (bought plenty of those on holidays as a teen) to a whole new level ….

    • MELewis · August 13, 2015

      I remember those! I had one too, but it was completely useless. All you ever had to do was take one look at my face to know my mood. 😉

      • Osyth · August 13, 2015


  5. cheergerm · August 13, 2015

    That is a bit of a crack-up! Crazy wee toothbrushes. I once purchased a pair of shoes in a resort and when I took them home I realised they were only for ‘Island resort wear’. Not the real world. 😬

    • MELewis · August 13, 2015

      There’s something fun about that, though….as if the holiday world is its own universe. Maybe the real world is over-rated?

  6. merewoman · August 14, 2015

    Reblogged this on Susie Kelly – Author and commented:
    Hm. Quite bizarre, but kudos to the manufacturer and the travelling salesman who persuaded the restaurant that this was a good idea. Personally I’d settle for a toothpick. Or a packet of ‘mood toothpicks’. 😀

    • MELewis · August 14, 2015

      That sounds like a more suitable marketing concept! 🙂 They could put the toothbrush dispenser in hotel rooms!

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