Beauty products

Bonne Bell. Bewitching me since 1976.

My father used to have this trick egg.

It seems like such a dad thing to do, and my father doesn’t do a lot of those dad things, like have elbow patches or put memes up about how he’s going to murder all my dates.

Those always seem creepy to me. Same as the shrill “Open Letter to the Future Bitches Who’ll Have the Nerve to Want a Healthy Adult Relationship with My Son” essays women pass around on Freudbook or wherever.

Anyway, the trick egg. It was plastic, and it stood on end. It balanced. And on the first day of spring or fall, he’d always find some yahoo to dupe. “On the very first day of [insert season here], the earth is such that eggs balance. It’s true.” He’d sound so convincing.

“Hang on. Let me get an egg out of the fridge.”

I would not wish for you to know that I was among the first people duped by this. I was 24.

And, AND, I helped him sneak the trick egg into my poor grandparents’ fridge so we could fool them. I deserve everything that happens to me.

The point is, every first day of spring or first day of fall, not only do I have to get annoyed by Facebook updates that capitalize the season (It’s Spring! I love Fall!) (Well, you’ve ruined the season for me, USELESS CAPPER), I also find myself wondering if I have that trick egg.

I never HAD the trick egg, except for that brief afternoon in 1989, when I had it in the pocket of my black cable-knit Gap cardigan, on its way to my unsuspecting grandparents’ egg tray. Back when fridges had egg trays. And the Gap had cable-knit.

But somehow, the idea of the egg stuck with me. I thought of it again today, on the first day of spring.

5410894677_11387da84c_b.jpg(I also fell for what my father told me about those dolphins people hang from their rearview mirrors. “Are those dolphins just for looks, or are they air fresheners?” I wondered one day when we were driving around LA. “They’re a compass. They always twist around to point to the ocean,” he told me.

“Really?”

I was 35.)

There are some things in life that I keep wishing I had, things I didn’t usually have for very long. Barry Gibb once said in an interview that any time he passes a barbershop, he sort of wistfully wonders if they have Brylcreem. He KNOWS they actually don’t, and yet he wonders about it.

That’s how I feel about the egg, and also about this…

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I owned two bottles of this. I’ve no idea why, other than of course I was seeking the liquid way to blush all day. Did someone give me both bottles? Was I on a shopping binge at 13? Because that’s how old I was when I owned this “cheek color.” Because it was gleamy. Never greasy. I looked just-blushed fresh.

I had a pink shade, and also a weird ginger, and I wore the weird ginger whenever I had on something brown. Which was often, because 1978. Am certain, in retrospect, that it did not flatter.

It’s safe to say I’ve owned a hundred blushes–sorry, CHEEK COLORS–since then, and I don’t even know that I LIKED this one that much, and yet it’s stuck with me. As has…

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Aw, man. If I just had a little Bonne Bell “blushing gel,” just a pinch between m’cheek and gums, I’d be all set, man. That’s me: Subtile et durable.

I think my problem stems from my magazine habit in the late ’70s. I’d walk home from junior high (someone in the break room at work the other day didn’t know what “junior high” meant) in what I recall as always, always being the dead of winter (it was Michigan. There’s a 9 out of 12 chance it WAS winter), and there in the mailbox would be one of the many excellent magazines my grandmother had hooked me up with.

Seventeen.

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Hello. My lip gloss matches my earlobe infection. Won’t you enjoy my randy tie?

The very-originally named competition, ‘Teen.

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I look sweater perfect. In more ways than ONE. Wink.

Do you know what I was doing when I holed up in our apartment reading Teen after school? I was getting more out of life.

I further received Young Miss. Grammy musta been blowin’ her pension on magazines for me, and was I ever grateful? No.

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Hair goal: To look vaguely like a waffle cone.

She really was born to act. And she knew the right way to blow hyphen dry her hair. I saw Kristy McNichol once, at a Marie Callendars in the Valley. She looked pretty much like that. She was 42.

My grandmother even got me the hard stuff:

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Christie Brinkley looks precisely the same today. She gets Ultherapy. So.

Aw, man, I wouldn’t even wait to thaw. I’d throw my puffy 1978 winter coat down, grab me some peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, and commence to reading every page of these magazines after school. Which explains your stellar math skills to this day, “Homework, Schmomework” gal. And I’m certain I read the stupid articles (Who could put down “How to have a great bottom”?), but what really got to me were the ads.

And lemme tell you something: The person who wrote those Bonne Bell ads knew witchcraft or something, because there wasn’t a straight girl alive in 1979 who wouldn’t sell BOTH ARMS to get her some Bonne Bell action. I’ll put that shit on with m’toes. Give me that Bonne Bell.

That copywriter knew how to bore into the soul of a teenager. It’s impressive work, really.

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Has anyone seen my high-collared lace shirt? How about m’hairspray?

I remember wanting this the way I want a snow leopard now. It was going to be a party! For my LIPS! Do you even underSTAND how wonderful that was going to BE?

Eventually, I babysat enough horrific children that I had the two-fifty needed to purchase this necessary object. I can still taste it. It was a total party for my lips. Bianca Jagger rode a horse right across my lips.

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THAT’S how big of a party it was.

Anyway.

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Asked for it for my 13th birthday. GOT IT. Because it was important I get a super-dark tan in a hurry. I had places to go. Like the marshmallow fluff store. And the melanoma doctor.

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I came into some money, like seven dollars or something, and walked all the way down to the GOOD drugstore on Court Street, there, next to Roy’s Steakhouse (The three people who read me in my hometown are all, yeah. Hell, yeah.) to get me some Ten-O-Six lotion. It was brown alcohol in a bottle. But those demons at Bonne Bell brainwashed me. My brain was washed in 70s-brown alcohol.

Oh, I’d dearly love to sniff a bottle of Ten-O-Six. I’ll bet it smells like 1978.

IMG_6190.pngI had all of them. Many, many children across Saginaw, Michigan were ignored, at a dollar an hour, in order to support my Bonne Bell habit.

And I know they make ’em now. But some asshole bought the company, and Dear Asshole Who Bought Bonne Bell:

You don’t fool us. Those lip smackers you sell at Target got NOTHING on the excellent flavors the real lip smackers used to have. Yours taste of plastic and ambition. Fuck you, buyers of Bonne Bell. You messed with our memories.

I don’t even LIKE Good and Plenty, and yet I still bought Good and Plenty. My best friend Beth had Bit-o-Honey, and I coveted.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, Bonne Bell is my trick egg. Bonne Bell is my Brylcreem. Hey, there are worse things. At least my lips weren’t hungry for flavor.

Deeply,
Bonne Bell Butler

87 thoughts on “Bonne Bell. Bewitching me since 1976.”

  1. The best gift I ever got when I was a kid was a huge Bonne Bell Dr Pepper lipsmacker that had a cord attached to it so you could wear it as a necklace. And I wore it A LOT. I wish I still had it.

    Also, I thought that in order to read Seventeen magazine, you had to BE seventeen. I remember the weird look my friend gave me when we were looking for magazines to read at her house and she offered me a Seventeen magazine and I said: “I’m only 15, I can’t read that yet”. I was not a smart child.

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  2. OK! I tried to read all the way through…but am about to BUST because nobody has said that cake lip stuff lady is really a current day photo shopped pic of Tom Brady…come ON!! (Joob, ask Ned.) Really…no? Oh, is my face red!

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  3. Ah, 1978. Yes. And yes, yes, yes. I was a bit young then, but only by a couple of years. I remember having purple mascara. I was the shit back then.

    Lovely post, lovely June!

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  4. Don’t forget the Yardley make up and Pots O’ Gloss. They came in stackers that coordinated with several different colors to mix and match. I just adored the Yardley, Love’s and Mary Qant cosmetics. All that shit out of London was just too cool.

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  5. My one and only lip smacker was grape flavored and I loved it. So you were one of the bitches who had more than one flavor! LOL Even if I would have used my own cash to buy others my mom would have said more than one was wasteful. Sigh,
    All wonderful memories in this post. Thank you.

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  6. We had a Jr. High School, for grades 6-8th. That place smelled like feet, hormones and unrequited love. Or maybe that was just me. Anyway, we had the attention span of gnats, and I don’t know how any teacher would work there voluntarily.

    Excited to see what Ultherapy does. I am starting to save my money for my turn.

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  7. Am I the only one to have naughty thoughts at the photo of a young and shapely derrière with a bottle of Butter Up attached? Ooh, that is suggestive right there

    Also too, I’m older than dirt so my “grade school” was a one room country school for grades 1-8. I had to go to town (30 minutes away) to attend high school which was Freshman-Senior.

    My fragrance of choice in my tender years was Evening in Paris. Probably you remember it from your grandmothers. Later I found an Avon one that I loved but do not remember the name now. I do remember drenching myself In it. I remember selling Bonnie Belle products in my first adultish job. A few years ago I found an old Evening in Paris blue bottle with a tiny bit of product still in it. I opened that thing immediately and that smell took me back. Yes, I still have that old bottle. Hmm, time to look for it.

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  8. Wow, thanks for the trip back in time, June!
    I also had Seabreeze when Ten- O- Six got too spendy, and some solid perfumes called , what, Good Earth or something? Sweet Earth? I remember one of the fragrances–they came three to a case–was something like ‘ylang-ylang’ which I thought was a made up name. And Body on Tap shampoo made of beer, and ‘Gee your hair smells terrific’. And my teen years smelled like Jean Nate.

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    1. Yes! to all of those. I have a Sweet Earth solid fragrance set I got a few years ago off of Vermont Country Store. And Jean Naté, oh I loved that smell. Especially when used liberally along with the original Herbal Essence shampoo.

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  9. I think I went right from Tiger Beat magazine straight to watching Johnny Carson every ding dang school night for my life’s lessons, pop culture and entertainment. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny! I think my mom got Cosmo though and I always liked that magazine. Didn’t understand some articles but also didn’t ask either. OH! Glamour magazine. Maybe that was after high school though, yeah I think it was.

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    1. I loved Tiger Beat – Shawn Cassidy, Andy Gibb, and all those other talented singers 😉 Who cared that they couldn’t sing; they were pretty!

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    2. I loved Tiger Beat – Shawn Cassidy, Andy Gibb, and all those other talented singers 😉 Who cared that they couldn’t sing; they were pretty!

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      1. I was in my late 20s when I looked at a Tiger Beat. Every single answer to “what would you like in a boyfriend/girlfriend?” started with “a sense of humor.” And this poor younger-than-springtime teen idol was asked to describe himself. “Well, I think I’m interesting,” he began. I died of embarrassment for him. Then he said he had sense of humor.

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  10. I never understood the change from “junior high” to “middle school”. Did junior make the students feel inferior so it was a self-esteem thing? Why don’t they forbid parents from naming their child after themselves then?

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  11. Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers – my friend had the root beer and the 7UP flavors. I am hallucinating their smells right now. That model is wearing a tie on that magazine cover, by the way, because it was 1978 and Annie Hall was all the rage.

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  12. In parochial Roman Catholic school we went from K through 8th. High School began in 9th grade. Had I gone to public school I would have attended the junior high which ended with 9th grade. Ours was in a horrible, tough neighborhood so many of us did one year of Catholic High school to keep us out of there. Tution for Catholuc high school got expensive. I finished 9th through 12th in the public high school. They use the term elementary and middle school now. I think elementary may have been used in the public school system even in the sixties and seventies. They closed down our Catholic kindergarten and my youngest siblings went to the public school one.

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  13. Wow. Just wow. I didn’t have any of this, except Clairol’s Herbal Essence Shampoo. Didn’t have the magazines. Didn’t know I was supposed to have soda pop on my lips. I must have been living under a rock. Or had my nose buried in my Narnia and Tolkien books.

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  14. I loved my Young Miss magazines. I thought the ads for remind products were something racy and grown-up. Like a Playgirl magazine or something. I felt the need to hide them away because that was private stuff. I think I was 12 and very confused. I also had a jumbo sized Bonnie Bell lip gloss in Orange or tangerine, it was gross and about made me barf, but it was cool to have so I used it.

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    1. I think I probably would have bought the dolphin story. Probably still would. It makes complete sense to me. What?

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  15. 1. Please please, tell me that Young Miss had stories about Polly, Louise, Agnes and ________. I suppose they stopped printing these stories before most of you were born, but for years I have been trying to remember that fourth chick’s name. Anyone?

    2. My aunt gave me a subscription to Reader’s Digest.

    3.14159 Well, how DO I get a fair derrière? Even a somewhat derrière would be an improvement here.

    &. Who among you went gladly to the Bonne Belle counter and asked for the homemade Piece a Cake recipe? If you share it, we could all have a virtual party for our lips together.

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    1. The only thing I remember from Young Miss was that it had a column called “Was My Face Red!” (and how!), which shared embarrassing stories about themselves that Young Misses sent in.

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  16. I loved Seventeen and it always made me wish I had freckles. And skinny thighs. Which when I look back now I had. I just didn’t know it.

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  17. All of this brought back so many memories! I remember when Seventeen first came out and Whitney Houston was one of their cover models. I thought she was so incredibly beautiful. It still makes me sad to think how her life turned out.

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  18. Ten O Six. I won a raffle at the drugstore when I was a teenager and the prize was a huge gallon jug of Ten O Six. Nobody needs that much of the stuff. I couldn’t give it away. I tried. Ended up pouring most of it down the drain when it passed its expiry date. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

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  19. You had a LOT of magazines, Pretty June. I had Teen. I got a Scottish Pen Pal through a swap with a British teen magazine. We have been writing snail mail since 1974. She has a computer but her husband and four children barely let her near it. No Facebook. I owe her a letter. She has kept us in touch. We wrote a lot years ago as teenagers.
    I was buying Cosmo in high school with my own money from my part time job at Sears as a packer in catalog sales. My mother decided to read it one day and she declared it way too advanced for my age. She rolled it up and smacked me with it as if I were a dog, telling me I was getting way too big for my britches. HA! If she had found my secret porn stash. Yes, I had one, and I was a virgin. I had been reading my dad’s porn at 13 and a couple I babysat for’s Penthouse Forum magazines for years. I was the brave one who would march right into RiteAid and buy them. I had Playgirls too. 1976/77 and onward.
    I loved makeup. I’m oily so I preferrred powder blush. I did wear lipgloss over lipstick. I bought a lot of drugstore stuff until my aunt introduced me to the joys of the department store and Estee Lauder and Clinique.
    My depression era grandmother would never have bought us magazines. She would have considered them wasteful I think. My cousin’s other grandmother and her daughter, my aunt, bought movie star magaxines and those True Story ones Paula H&B sends you. I and my poor cousin (it was my idea, it almost always was) got punished for stealing the True Story ones to read. I was a snoopy, overly curious, precosious child.

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    1. My dad had a big collection of Playboy and Oui magazines, with a couple issues of Penthouse thrown in the mix. My sisters and I would always read them when my parents were at work. For my one of my classes in high school, I had to do a report on drugs and I got the majority of my info from articles in those magazines. Heck, I pretty much just plagiarized the articles knowing my teachers would not tell me, “Hey, you just copied articles in smut rags.” I got an A on that report.

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    2. I love that you have a pen pal. And even more that yall have basically grown up together. Will you ever meet up?

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  20. I have no idea what they used to put in Lip Smackers to make them really taste like what they said. Dr. Pepper did taste like Dr. Pepper. Perhaps it was crack they put in there, but I cherished every flavor I had. I used to get one or two in my Easter Basket and it was (almost) better than the hollow chocolate bunny!

    God bless your Grandma getting you magazine subscriptions!

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  21. I love nostalgic posts like this one! I miss so many things from childhood, like the flavored lip gloss with the little roller ball. It was always a little grainy. My daughter will never know the joy of the little Avon lipstick samples my grandma used to give to me.
    My sister is four years older than me, so I read all of her magazines before I was a teen. She got Seventeen and Young Miss (which became YM) and Sassy, which I never cared for. It was a little too hip for me. When I got to middle school (sorry, we didn’t have junior high), my mom ordered Teen Magazine for me. I remember it had a Dear Always column for all the pressing period questions that a girl might have. Yes, you can play volleyball while on your period!
    Now I’ll spend my evening googling all the favorites of my childhood!

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      1. Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret. After reading that book, I was so anxious to get my period. And look at the get I got.

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  22. Oh yes! Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and that shiny Kissing Potion lip gloss. Jaysus, I loved that stuff! And those Coty slimy perfumes. Why were we so obsessed with slathering stuff all over ourselves? I can’t count the hours I spent at the JC Penney cosmetic counter, shelling out my hard-earned pennies on all those things. Sigh.

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  23. This is a walk down Junior High memory lane! I wanted acne so bad so that I could use Ten-O-Six! The neighbor girls had it and I was so jealous.

    I think Bonne Bell also made a little cube of plastic and it had layers of make-up and it all latched together. I HAD TO HAVE IT for my Junior High locker. Did my 13 year old self know what to do with any of that make-up? No. But I had it.

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  24. My sister and I had the liquid cheek color and the gel. She used the 10-0-6 religiously too. Oh the Seventeen magazine was so cool back then. Phoebe Cates was in it so much back then, I always wanted to look like her. I must admit that in 9th grade I rocked the tie look. Nobody else rocked it, just me…in a “nobody else is wearing this” way!

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    1. I remember when my father saw Phoebe Cates on the cover and said that she looked like me. I thought that was the best complement ever. Or, he had one too many glasses of wine. I think it was because we both had braces. Either way, I never forgot it.

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  25. My dad owned the meat market/grocery next to Faler’s (spelling) drug store! He worked there for many years before buying it. I used to basically live at the store during the summer and would walk down to the Court Street theater or Butman Fish library. The books were free of course, but I used to return bottles at the 7-11 so I could go to the movies. You took me down memory lane for a minute there! I devoured similar magazines but wasn’t obsessed with the Bonne Bell. I guess I was a few years too late for that.

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      1. Oh my god, I was not allowed to say the word “turd” when I was a kid, part of the extensive “Get over poop things being funny” campaign waged fruitlessly by my mother. I KNEW that library had a hilarious name, and I TOTALLY ACCIDENTALLY called it “Turdman-Fish” once, and got grounded, and I SWEAR TO THIS DAY it was an honest mistake. No wonder I had to turn to magazines.

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  26. Village Naturals was my Bonne Bell. Remember the lip balm in the tins with the sliding top? They also had a beer shampoo in a beer bottle shape. Loved!

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  27. I was 35. That made me laugh out loud! We didn’t have junior high, we went from elementary school (grades 1-7) right into high school (grades 8-12). It was soooo exciting going to 8th grade. Looking back that was a horrible arrangement for kids, probably the reason middle school was established. I missed all the Bonnie Bell excitement, I was too old to buy those great sounding flavors. When I was growing up we smeared baby oil all over us and did a slow bake in the sun. Then the Noxema was applied because we were beet red and on fire, literally. That is why I have damaged skin. If we had only known.

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  28. I remember all of this stuff (except the ’70s era Cosmo). I remember that exact cover of Young Miss. What is going on with her eyes? One of them looks like it’s way off to one side. My sisters and I loved Lip Smackers.

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  29. How crazy is this? Before reading your not-blog this morning, I was thinking about how we called it junior high and today everyone calls it middle school. We called grade school elementary school. What did you call it?

    Loved your father’s trick egg and its story. I can just see you furtively placing it in your grandparent’s refrigerator and anxiously awaiting the moment of the trick.

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  30. I had the “new” Dr. Pepper disappointment not long ago! How in the hell do they even REMOTELY think it smells/tastes like Dr. Pepper?! I also had an iridescent, marshmallow Lip Smackers that I would apply and then immediately lick off.

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  31. Back in the ‘70s, we drove by the Bonne Bell factory, (it looked like a beautiful house,) on the way to my grandma’s. When I got my first LipSmacker, I felt like a celebrity because I knew where they were made.

    Bonne Bell eventually moved to a real factory. The city was devastated when they announced in 2015 they were closing and selling off their assets. Can you believe they had less than 100 employees?

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  32. Just saw a rather large and obnoxious billboard here in Memphis, TN the heart of crazy religious nuts… that says Cosmopolitan is PORN, keep away from children at the bottom of the billboard is a www. cosmo is porn dot com or something like that.

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    1. Yeah we have one of those too. Too be fair, there is always an article or two on sex and orgasms. Not child-type reading in my mind.

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        1. I laughed so hard at this, I started choking on my coffee!! Joob’s blog, come for the funny and stay hoping there’s someone who knows the Heimlich within earshot.

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          1. I can’t believe that my mother actually allowed me to read. She must’ve been more concerned about keeping me off reefer. How did we not know back then that Kristy McNichols was not a fan of the penis?

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      1. You can no longer equate religious nuts with a distaste for porn. Or strippers. It’s all good now.

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  33. I cannot even read your non-blog all the way through this morning because I voted and because of that I have to choose whether to read all of this or be late to work. The man is keeping me down.
    The first half has made me laugh several times already. I’ll be back after work!

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  34. Young Miss subscriber here! I was always SO excited to get the latest issue. Today, I can’t even get through half a magazine.

    How did Kristy McNichol even get into acting?? That cover photo of her is so…young butch. And I know they made makeup for her to wear in 1978, just based off this post alone.

    I used to lick all the Lip Smackers off my lips because I liked the taste, although I’m sure it was disgusting, now that I’m much older and think about it.

    Nice job, Coot!

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  35. What do you even mean that some embryo didn’t know what “Junior High” was? Is this because of “Middle School?” And “Moving Up Ceremonies” for every dingdang grade? And Participation Trophies? Couldn’t figure it out based on “Senior High?” IDIOT.

    Junior High: What you get from low-grade weed. IDIOT.

    Speaking of idiots, who among us did not broil and roast our young selves on reflecting blankets, covered in oil for hours all summer? Now? I don’t even venture out to get the mail without dressing like a beekeeper. Who knew?

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    1. Paula, My sister and I would lay out the minute spring arrived in Ma. I remember being out with snow on the ground during April break! At least it kept our beers cold.

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  36. My mother was convinced Ten-O-Six was helping my complexion, so she kept me supplied. Would love to smell it again!

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  37. Thought I was so mature with the Bonne Bell items! On another note, my sister, who was nine years (she said “8 3/4) older, had a Cosmopolitan magazine which I found and read voraciously. At age nine, I read an article about a New York call girl, her luxurious apartment and her swanky dates. I thought I it sounded like a great career goal! I was in high school before I understood what else a call girl did.

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  38. I also had all of the Lip Smackers. I loved the 7-Up and Lemonade flavors. Dr. Pepper was also a favorite. I also had the Bonne Bell gel blush. I remember it getting sticky and gross after it had been around for a while.

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    1. Oh, yes, I had Kissing Potion — I mean, what teenage girl isn’t going to want lip gloss that seems to promise kisses and magic? I remember the consistency of it not being the best, but whoo care?

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  39. Oh my god! BUTTER UP! I forgot all about that stuff! Hours and hours of my life spent butter-ing up. And then just… laying there. Now I can’t sit still for 10 minutes without some important task popping into my head, but as a 15 year old who should have had boundless energy. I could lay in the sun for days.

    And Ten-o-Six is my dream… my life would be complete. That and a good coat of Noxema before bed. What a mess!

    Thanks for the memories!

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