Thursday, February 09, 2006

In shaving, as in life, more is better

In America, people seem to often think more is better. Larger portions of food, bigger houses, bigger engines in their cars, and bigger cars. So, it is not that surprising to see the arms-race over razors:

The history of razors:
1850's: Invention of the safety razor
-1900s: Cut-throat razors common. A single blade, often wielded by a crusty old barber.
1903: Safety razor with disposable blades invented by King Camp Gillette. (I'm not making that name up). Introduction of mass-produced razors, and the business model of making money off of disposable blades.
1930s: Electric razor invented by Jacob Schick.
Later: Two-blade disposable razors. The war between Gillete and Schick begins, with new razor versions appearing almost every year.
Then: After years of advanced research, Gillette unveils the three-blade razor, Mach III. Blade cartridges reach stratospheric prices.
But: Schick fights back with four blades, the Quattro. Schick and Gillette offer razors with tiny motors to simulate the old crusty barber with shaky hands from the 19th century.
Prophetically: The Onion publishes an article predicting the next logical development: Gillette going to five blades!
Make it so: On Superbowl Sunday this year, Gillette finally unveiled their Fusion razor with five blades. Do I hear six blades from Schick? Dr. Seuss might have penned a line or two about that... "Slick Schick stick six ..."

NPR's Steve Inskeep bravely put the new 5-blade razor to the test.

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