An Oral History Of The Bath Bomb
A relaxing bath bomb is a staple of any good wellness routine, but what’s the story behind them? Bunny Ears sat down for an exclusive interview with some of the brilliant minds behind the iconic rejuvenating treat, and what we learned was certainly surprising. For example, did you know that bath bombs were originally developed by the U.S. military?
Dr. Ignatius P. Bathaus (Creator): “I had been contracted by the military to create a more environmentally friendly hand grenade. That project didn’t work out, but I noticed that the soldiers who had their hands blown off were soothed by the lingering scent of the biodegradable rose pedals.”
But there were certainly a number of challenges to the developing the fizzy goodness we know and love.
Ashleigh Pappenheimer (Design Coordinator): “Dr. Bathaus hired me to help him develop a civilian model. Our first challenge was to find a replacement explosive catalyst. Our earliest model was 140 lbs. and barely fit in a tub. We thought we could build a marketing campaign around how long it would last, but then a test subject’s knee was crushed.”
Arnold Gerbil (Test Subject): “That wasn’t covered in the waiver. I could have sued and brought the whole project down right there. But I was willing to make a sacrifice. I may have lost a knee, but eventually I gained a softer, more pleasant smelling America.”
At one point, Dr. Bathaus had a long, dark night of the soul.
Bathaus: “I was obsessed with finding a way to use a tiny amount of TNT to get a satisfying ‘pop.’ After 271 straight shattered bathtubs, I had to admit that sodium bicarbonate and citric acid was the way to go. From there, I just had to find the perfect ratio that would allow us to scale the product down. Luckily, Caltech was generous in lending me lab assistants and funding.”
It was all starting to come together, but there were still bumps in the road.
Horatio Tyrannus (Olfactoryologist): “I was brought on to lead the scent team. We tested over 20,000 scents. We were alarmed when ‘dog cremation’ proved the most popular, but we quickly rebranded it as ‘summer nights.’ Don’t let the whimsical name fool you; you’re still smelling genuine dog ash.”
Pappenheimer: “It was hell getting the theoretical scientists in the scent department and the experimental scientists in the ingredients department to cooperate. It felt like every day I heard someone say ‘Honey is testing well, so find a way to get it in the damn bomb!’ and get a response of ‘That’s easy for you to say, but how do you expect us to keep the bees from suffocating?’ There was a lot of tension. Ironic, considering the goal of the product.”
Bathaus: “In retrospect, I may have pushed the team too hard, but after the Times Square Bed Bath & Beyond was devoured by locusts, American faith in bathing was destroyed. I wanted to restore that faith. Was I also motivated by my father demanding that I only ever shower? That’s for history to decide.”
It was all worth it in the end.
Tyrannus: “I thought the big day would never come, but suddenly, there it was. Dr. Bathaus insisted on testing the prototype of the final product himself, so hundreds of us assembled in his house to watch him have a bath. I was one of the lucky ones who got a spot in the bathroom instead of having to watch on the live feed. I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.”
Bathaus: “It felt like … [laughs, gestures vaguely] I don’t know. I can’t put into words.”
Pappenheimer: “I cried. I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s not like I was the only one.”
Gerbil: “Of course, making the product was only half the battle. They still had to find a market for it.”
Baron Lucius (President of Lush): “When Dr. Bathaus approached us, Lush was still primarily in the market of selling really, really plush towels, but consumers were complaining that our towels were so plush that, when worn, they cut off circulation to their limbs. It was time to take Lush, and all of bathing, in a bold new direction.”
Pappenheimer: “The partnership had a rocky start. Lush’s marketing campaign wasn’t clear, so customers thought that bath bombs were European apples. They liked the taste, but they weren’t clear on what the health benefits were supposed to be.”
Tyrannus: “We finally solved that damn bee problem, and then a customer goes and gets a beehive built in his stomach. That was a stressful day.”
Lucius: “The roll-out could have gone better, I don’t deny that. But then we came up with the idea to have live bathers demonstrate the product in every store, and they’ve been flying off the shelves ever since. We’re making a killing, even when we account for the cost of the armed guards and body scanners to deter shoplifters.”
Bathaus: “I’m flattered when people say that I changed their lives, but I’m not out there looking for glory. I just want people to be able to enjoy a nice bath. The real heroes are the troops. The funny thing is that they’re all far more effective killers now because bath bombs help them deal with stress. Life has a way of working out.”