THE ANSWER JUST MIGHT SURPRISE YOU.
When was the last time you didn’t see a Purell dispenser? Can’t think of one? Well, that’s because for every thirty square feet of America, there are six Purell dispensers. But what, exactly, is Purell? And is it killing those who use it?
Short answer? No, of course it isn’t killing people. Long answer? Just maybe (but probably not). But in case there is some unforseen, lingering danger, Purell has taken it upon themselves to roll out a new de-Purelle-er called Purell-off.
Purell-off was the brainchild of top Purell executive Peter Fwithington, who made his name in the early eighties with hair-removal sensation, Nair.
“So, totally off the record, we have absolutely no idea what’s in Purell,” said Fwithington. “We know that there is some sort of slime-based component. And a few people have said it smells like tarragon or dill, but beyond that, we really don’t know. So the idea behind Purell-off is, you know, in case it is bad for you well, then, you can wash it off. It’s really the best of both worlds.”
Purell, invented in 1912 by Thomas Edison’s eldest brother, Topher, sat on store shelves for decades until American parents realized that germs, like God, were everywhere. Experts say that this realization took hold in 1992, though some say it actually occured in the late eighties. Regardless, the nation became obsessed with “Purell-ing” their hands.
“If I am not within fifty feet of a Purell dispenser, I start to get really uncomfortable,” said Upper West Side mom, Diane Abromovitz. “I start thinking of all the dirty things and disgusting people I’ve been touching, and all those germs floating around just looking for a place to land, and it really throws me into a tizzy. If they ever take this stuff [Purell] off of the market, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
“The move to introduce Purell-off, and then place it right next to the old Purell, is a very sly maneuver indeed,” said David Grayson, the least important attorney at the Swain, Swain & Grayson law firm in lower Manhatan. “If it does, in fact, come to light that Purell has been harmful all these years, Purell can now very easily argue, ‘Hey, you could have de-Purell-ed if you wanted to. That was your choice. We very dutifully provided the antidote right next to the source of danger.’ Any scumbag lawyer will be able to appreciate this move. They’re essentially defending themselves before any accusations even arise.”
Not only has Purell brilliantly covered its future butt with Purell-off, it’s also filling a real need.
“I’m willing to go out of my way for a squirt of the Purell, no question about that,” said midtown Manhattan mom, Laura Begney. “But once I’ve covered my hands with it, I’m left with a slightly greasy, why-did-I-just-do-that feeling. Purell-off is the perfect antidote, because now I get my super-convenient dose of Purell, and then I get my equally convenient dose of anti-Purell. And that’s a good thing.”
Some opponents of Purell-off are questioning the company’s motives, saying that not only does the original Purell feed on completely unfounded germ fears, but to place a product next to another product in order to negate the ladder product, is playing to a person’s basic lack of reason. In other words, Purell is taking advantage of people’s stupidity by saying: USE THIS! but then turning around and saying: OK, NOW USE THIS TO GET RID OF THAT!
“It’s just absolutely crazy thinking,” said Josh Fleming, professor of advertising and marketing at the SUNY New Paltz School of Marketing. “But what scares me most about this inanity is the fact that it will probably work.”