Possibly this marks my age, but I recall roughly when, seemingly overnight, virtually all of the the soap in my house (which was to say my parents' house) went from being regular bar soap to being pump-canisters of liquid soap, in the kitchen, on the bathroom counters, in the laundry room, in the showers -- softsoap is, after all, not simply 'soft,' in the sense of soap left too long in the dish which has become a pile of unpleasant mush. It does not-so-much good to have it in a dish or a bowl, where it might dry out and develop an unsettling film across the top. No, friend, a canister has to be deployed, or in short order thereafter, a plastic container. The Navajo, amongst their cultural relics, had an ancient recipe for making a soft soap all their own, from boiled yucca root and the juice of the prickly pear and such, but knowing how to make it wasn't of much use to peoples for whom carrying rolled up bunches of roots was more convenient by far than making water tight receptacles for porting nondigestable liquids.

I remember the birth of the soft soap era distinctly because there was a point shortly after when my grandmother, bless her dear heart, had reason to wash my mouth out with soap -- I must have uttered some mild oath, as I didn't also get the (buckle-free) end of the belt for it -- and she went looking for a bar of it and could not find one. So she washed my mouth out with liquid soap, which was (in my none-too shy experience) an utterly more noxious taste. Naturally, I immediately protested that I'd been poisoned by it, and she started fretting as though I just might have. And, come to think of it, that was the last time I ever got my mouth washed out with soap. I think after that I probably wised up enough to avoid paying such a penalty. Either that or I simply went full-out and merited the belt.

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