Favorite Things – Burt’s Bees Hand Salve

‘Tis the season of desiccation, a New England winter, some serious wind chill, zero humidity, and I start to crack and split like a stream bed in a drought. Since real men don’t use lotion (… the prisoner puts the lotion in the basket), I have usually just let my hands suffer, abused by gloveless clam digging, wood splitting, and the wearing of monstrous wool mittens like a giant four-year old would wear.

I found a yellow tin of this stuff over the sink last month, abandoned there by my wife who said it smelled foul.

Yep. It stinks but I like it. Take two hurting hands, smear a concoction of olive oil, rosemary, eucalyptus and beeswax all over them, and proceed to smear big greasy fingerprints all over the mouse, the keyboard … I use it on my face too. Is that wrong? At least I’m not using Bag Balm, the infamous Vermont goo and your cows’ udders.

I just opened tin #2 and have one on my desk in North Carolina. Burt’s is based in Durham, N.C. but was founded in a turkey coop in Maine. Burt was an actual beekeeper and his face is the one on the can. Louise Story wrote in the New York Times on Jan. 6:

“IN the summer of 1984, Burt Shavitz, a beekeeper in Maine, picked up Roxanne Quimby, a 33-year-old single mother down on her luck, as she hitchhiked to the post office in Dexter, Me. More than a dozen years Ms. Quimby’s senior, the guy locals called “the bee-man” sold honey in pickle jars from the back of his pickup truck. To Ms. Quimby, he seemed to be living an idyllic life in the wilderness (including making his home inside a small turkey coop).

“She offered to help Mr. Shavitz tend to his beehives. The two became lovers and eventually birthed Burt’s Bees, a niche company famous for beeswax lip balm, lotions, soaps and shampoos, as well as for its homespun packaging and feel-good, eco-friendly marketing. The bearded man whose image is used to peddle the products is modeled after Mr. Shavitz.”

Ms. Quimby walked away with $300 million after Clorox bought the company. Burt? He still lives in the turkey coop (with $4 million) but it still doesn’t have running water or electricity.

There’s a Burt Blog. 

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