You can get a lot of great products in the US – so why do the deodorants stink? | Arwa Mahdawi

My mum, who lives in England, is coming to visit me in Philadelphia soon and I have given her strict instructions on what to bring from the motherland. Namely, deodorant. You can get a lot of things in the US – it is a land of excess – but the deodorant offerings here stink.

Most American women, you see, tend to use stick deodorants. In the UK, meanwhile, it’s far more normal for women to use a roll-on. Or, at least, its far more normal for shops to stock a wide range of roll-ons. I don’t have some sort of degree in deodorant studies, I should probably note; I have not done extensive market research on this matter. This assertion is based on empirical data gathered over a lifetime of deodorant shopping, along with several years of arguing with my American wife about our underarm preferences. She thinks roll-on deodorant is (trigger warning: an objectionable word is about to appear) moist and leaves a wet sensation. I think that stick deodorant feels clammy and flaky. Clearly I am right.

Since there’s always a pedant reading, I should acknowledge that it is possible, if one is very motivated, to find roll-on deodorants in the US. But I’m a bit suspicious of what is out there. Some beliefs just get deeply and irrationally ingrained and absolutely nothing will shake me of the idea that the UK offers superior deodorant.

In fact, the contents of my mum’s suitcase (or at least the contents that I’ve dictated) are an encapsulation of English excellence. They represent everything that Britain does better than anywhere else. Alongside the deodorant, there are several packs of chocolate. I suppose it’s debatable whether a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk is superior to Belgian chocolate but there is no argument that it’s a million times better than the abomination that calls itself American chocolate. Then there are a few packets of Hula Hoops (the US has never developed a taste for savoury snacks that can double as finger jewellery), crumpets, Marmite, and – obviously – a lot of tea. American tea just doesn’t taste the same. Now, if only my mum could pack the NHS, I’d be very happy indeed.

Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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