Geek Trivia

The Phrase “Always A Bridesmaid But Never A Bride” Was Coined By A Company Selling?

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Answer: Mouthwash

While the phrase seems to have a patina of age on it, “Always a bridesmaid but never a bride” is actually a relatively recent addition to the English language. The implication of the phrase is that the woman in question is perpetually stuck in the position of assisting the bride achieve her happy marriage, but never achieving it herself. What could stand in the bridesmaid’s way? Bad breath, of course.

Or, so you would believe, if you saw the ad–pictured here–run by the Listerine company back in 1925. The ad pitched the idea that the real problem in a young lady’s life was bad breath and that by banishing it with Listerine, she wouldn’t risk a life of spinsterhood and loneliness.

While such an advertising tact wouldn’t work so well in the modern world, the ad campaign was wildly successful and Listerine sales climbed from $100,000 a year in 1921 to more than $4 million a year by 1927.