The Nurdle: The Thing You See Everyday But Probably Never Knew It’s Name

Everything has to have a name, and the toothpaste blob you see on toothpaste packages and in advertisements is no exception. That blob of toothpaste with its perfect curves is technically called a “nurdle.” You see it on toothpaste boxes and tubes everywhere. Use of the nurdle became widespread when toothpastes transitioned from a white paste to colored gels back in the 1970s. With the introduction of the red gel of Close-Up, the green gel of Aim and the multicolored gel of Aquafresh, showing nurdles in marketing and packaging became an important way of touting a brand's distinctiveness. In the world of advertising, a picture of a nurdle is important because the oral care aisle is so crowded and shoppers spend a fraction of a second making a choice. That’s why toothpaste makers want the “nurdle” all to themselves. In fact, Colgate-Palmolive filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline — the maker of Aquafresh — in 2010 to prohibit the use of the nurdle in other companies’ toothpaste packaging. GlaxoSmithKline turned around and filed suit against Colgate-Palmolive. The toothpaste giants finally reached a confidential settlement in 2011. As Rodney King would say, why can’t everyone just use the nurdle and get along?