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by , 07-19-2011 at 06:10 AM (466 Views)
A lot of these mini articles originate from customer enquiries. At least once a week I get an email that goes something like this... “Joe, I'm new to Italian shaving products and I can't figure out why the Italians would make shaving soap in 1 Kg loafs? That is a lot of soap!”

In Italian barbershops, these loafs of wonderful soaps are referred to as “Panetti”. The most popular of these soaps is called P.160, but these can also be found under brand names such as Cella, Vitos and Valobra. In my biased opinion, these are the best shaving soaps money can buy, in terms of performance, but later on I will explain to you why my opinion is so bias.

There are two very good reasons why these soaps come in 1kg Panetti and now I'm going to share these reasons with you...

The first reason is very simple and logical. These products were designed for professional use and the target market was barbers and barbershops. Most traditional barbershops have at least 3-4 full-time barbers that perform dozens of shaves every week; that means they use a lot of shaving soap, so less packaging material and a larger volume-discounted size makes a lot of sense.

Now for the second reason and the reason why I am so biased! The first time I heard of P.160 was from my local barber. He found out I was importing Alum blocks from Italy and called me up to get a few. On the phone, we struck up a passionate conversation about old-school wet-shaving and near the end of the chat he invited me down to the shop to 'get something special'. A few day later I stopped in and the first thing I saw was a huge grin; followed by... “Wait til you try this stuff!” From behind the counter he pulled out a Panetto of P.160 shaving soap. He proceeded to slice off a generous-sized piece with a knife, bagged it in a zip-lock and told me to “Enjoy!”

A few weeks later I went back to thank him again and he said “No problem, I always keep a few loafs around to share with friends, family and good customers. If you need need more just let me know.”

That's when it dawned on me... These Panetti are made to share! That's why they are so big! It makes all the sense in the world... Italians will grow huge vegetable gardens so they can feed the entire street, or make two dozen festive pastries and give them out to everybody they know; why would it be any different for shaving soap!

So, if you have a few kilos of soap laying around, remember to offer some to family and friends; it just might get them interested in traditional wet-shaving and they'll remember your generosity for life!
Bruno, JoeSomebody, amb and 3 others like this.