The story behind Dr. Bronner's, the soap company that's been fascinating people for 75 years

Dr. Bronner's—the "All-One" soap company—turns 75 this year. The Bronner family began making soap in Germany in 1858, and Emanuel Bronner founded the company in 1948. I've been a huge fan of Dr. Bronner's since I was in college and I first bought some liquid peppermint soap to take on a camping trip. Like everyone else, I was fascinated by the wacky labels, which explicated Dr. Bronner's Moral ABC: "Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Teach the Moral ABC that unites all mankind free, instantly 6 billion strong & we're All-One" and which exclaimed that there were 18 uses for the soap, and urged the user to Dilute! Dilute! Dilute! The labels are so intriguing/weird/fascinating that they have garnered a great deal of attention from customers and journalists over the years. Kieran Dahl at Vox described the labels like this:

Even if you've never gone hiking, gone vegan, gone to Whole Foods, or gone on a psychedelic trip, you might recognize Dr. Bronner's infamously loquacious label, a 3,000-word wall of text that's as microscopic as it is cosmically odd. Next to the quietly impersonal sans-serif branding of most personal care products, the Dr. Bronner's label is a barbaric yawp. With all its erratic punctuation and grammatical incoherence, its non sequiturs and obscure historical references, it appears to have been written by a pacifist polymath gone amok. (Emanuel was thought to have mental health issues. After a particularly fervent sermon in Chicago, his sister committed him to a mental hospital, where he was placed in solitary confinement. He soon escaped through a bathroom window and fled to California.) Jesus, Einstein, Mohammed, and Lincoln get mentions on the label, but so do Mao, Stalin, and Hitler. Jewels, dinosaurs, and "work-love-song-art-play-law-beauty" are noted, but so are slavery, starvation, and multilevel marketing.

Even today, I sometimes read the labels when I'm in the shower—even though I've seen them for decades now. I'm also still a big fan of the soap, and my favorite product remains the original peppermint liquid soap. In fact, I just washed my face with it, and am enjoying that tingly, pepperminty after-effect! And it's not just me—the soap is still wildly popular after 75 years—Beauty Matter states that last year, "a bottle or bar of Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap was sold, on average, every .95 seconds." That's a lot of soap!

Snack and Bakery provides a nice history of the company and also explains that part of the company's appeal is that it is rooted in its social justice mission:

Striving to produce the highest quality products—including its world-renowned soaps and ethical chocolate, the brand's business practices are rooted in a vision of social equity. The company caps executive compensation at five times the lowest paid fully vested position, and all profit not needed for operations or development is dedicated to organizations, campaigns, and people working for progressive social and environmental change.

Over on Dr. Bronner's website, they further explain the ideals driving the company:

Our Cosmic Principles in Action Over 75 Years

1: Work Hard! Grow!: Number one in Dr. Bronner's Moral ABC: Work hard! Prosper! Learn, grow, improve. Success is the engine that makes everything else possible. 

2: Do Right by Customers: First ingredient: love! Lead with heart, take time, give best—serve customers as you would serve mother-daughter-son. 

3: Treat Employees Like Family: Be kind, reward generously, support good and healthy living. Seek and encourage the best in one another. For whatever unites us is greater than whatever divides us! 

4: Be Fair to Suppliers: Build relationships with organic farmers and producers to create equitable supply chains. Fair prices for farmers, living wages and excellent working conditions for workers, investment in communities, respect for land and people! 

5: Treat Earth Like Home: Make humble and mindful use of the earth's gifts. Do not waste, do not harm the land or people or animals. What comes from the earth must go back! 

6: Fund & Fight for What's Right!: Be an engine for positive change—share profits, share talent, share muscle, share voice—give & give, fund & fight! 

They also explain what you, the customer, can do to forward their mission: (1) Vote to End Failed, Archaic Drug Policies; (2) Vote to Raise the Minimum Wage; and (3) End Factory Farming. I'm all for supporting this agenda, and a company that continues to make such awesome soaps.