Shopping for toothpaste is one of those things that most of us do because we have to. We just carry our basket into the aisle at the drugstore, and grab whatever shiny package promises that it’ll freshen our rancid early morning mouths, or says that it could make our enamel so shiny, it’ll be visible from the International Space Station.
But the choices in other countries are more adventurous than our endless pile of Mint, Fresh Mint, and Cinnamint. Unsurprisingly, Japan has a buffet of flavors that include salt, eggplant, and takoyaki, a snack made from diced octopus. And according to Linda Lew, a writer for the South China Morning Post, China is about to get a range of three different toothpastes that taste like hot pots.
“Omg wtf Chinese toothpaste company 冷酸灵 is launching hot pot flavoured toothpastes,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “[C]omes in little spicy, medium spicy and hentai spicy. Brb while I place an order.” And, before you ask, yes, hentai spicy means pretty much exactly what you think it means. (This week, the adult gaming platform Nutaku released its own Hentai Hot Sauce, which the company says is spicy enough to stimulate—their word—your nerve endings.)
The demand for the toothpaste has been immense, a sentence that probably no one has ever had to write before; Lew wrote that the presale for the hot pot flavors has already sold out. (If you’re in the United States and you want your mouth to burn with the unyielding fire of a thousand demons, I highly recommend Colgate Optic White.)
Flavored toothpastes have become an increasingly big business in China. According to Reuters, in 2014, some of the country’s best sellers were the green tea and jasmine varieties of Darlie-brand toothpaste. Unfortunately, until a couple decades ago, Darlie was known as “Darkie” toothpaste, and its logo was just as horrific as you’re imagining right now. In the mid-1980s, Colgate-Palmolive acquired 50 percent of Hawley & Hazel, which produces the toothpaste, and the name and its indefensible branding were changed—at least in English.
Other, non-racist corporations have spent more than a decade trying to convince Chinese consumers to use their toothpastes. Crest has, at times, outspent any other brand, in an attempt to advertise its own orange mint, lotus-, and tea-flavored varieties. "It's not only tea flavor," Proctor & Gamble’s Ken Zhang told NPR. "It's also a signal of the culture behind that. It's kitchen logic, it's grandmothers' stories. Chinese people think tea keeps your mouth fresh."
So maybe it’s the perfect toothpaste to use after that other, spicier toothpaste.