Soap Review: Irish Spring "Icy Blast"

For once I'm stymied, completely unsure of what I'm smelling. I thought this would be easy to do. I was wrong.

It's a bit silly to do a flat-out review of regular Irish Spring soap because everyone knows what Irish Spring smells like. We've all used it, or had a brother or uncle who did. I've pontificated on its fake greeny goodness many a time. Enough has been said.

The other day while shopping at the grocery store, I realized that I've never used the "blue Irish Spring," otherwise known as Icy Blast. I figured, if I don't know what it smells like, it's likely others don't either. There's definitely a smaller fan base for this version of Irish Spring than for the original. It has been around for a long time, but Colgate does a lousy job in marketing it, and Icy Blast sometimes gets pushed behind those big packs of regular Irish Spring on store shelves. I had a friend in high school who used it - I vaguely remember him saying something about hating the regular soap, and that's all I recollect. I'm really starting from square one here.

I expected Icy Blast to smell icy. Like a blast of sporty shampoo freshness. For some reason I was imagining the sport flanker of Aqua Velva, which is mentholated sweetness in a pocket-sized plastic bottle (and somehow a million times better than original Ice Blue). On the other hand, I expected it would suck shit through a straw with a smile. Anything called "Icy Blast" can't be good. It must smell like a sport soap, just faceless citrus overexposed by a dozen stops. Take this as a lesson for pre-figuring fragrances: it's not always possible. No matter how standard the packaging, or ubiquitous the concept, some things are going to throw you for a loop. When shower time arrived, I popped a bar of Icy Blast out of its oddly retro green box - which should be blue, but isn't - and stepped into the water.

Upon lathering, my first impression was, "this is grapefruit." There's a little waft of funky-sweet grapefruit that pops off the bar, but it isn't sharp, or cold, and certainly isn't alone - it's blended with a few other things. Try as I might, I can't figure out what those other things actually are. At first I thought they were violet and sandalwood on the same vanillic soapy base of original Irish Spring. Five minutes later, the violet became lavender. Then the idea that violet was there seemed ridiculous. Lavender and violet share no similarities whatsoever, but a highly-sweetened synthetic lavender, like the one in Cool Water, might at least be in the same general olfactory ballpark. That would explain why Davidoff's megahit keeps getting hitched to Creed's.

As I was rinsing the lather off my skin, I figured out the premise: Icy Blast is a fruity composition, capped by an attenuated sugared grapefruit note, which rests on original Irish Spring's green-vanilla base, and it's all laced together by something that smells like synthetic lavender, or maybe violet, or maybe violet-lavender. The fruits are pinkish-blue, probably berries, but they're vague. I expected vagueness, as it's soap, not fine fragrance, but I didn't expect an inviting mystery. It's a very good scent, somewhat oriental in nature, definitely fruity, definitely fresh, and entirely impossible to pin down. It isn't quite as strong as the original Irish Spring, but it's not shy, either. As I stepped out of the shower and sniffed the usual after-shower skinscent, I felt like violet was back in the picture again. I also felt like I was going a little insane.

Try this version of Irish Spring if you want to have fun playing an olfactory guessing game, made all the more compelling by the simple fact that this mystery scent smells incredible. I know there are far better soaps out there, and I'm sure they're all amazing, but I'm an Irish Spring guy, and I'm all the richer for it.

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