Years ago, almost ten of them, when I was working as a temp at Colgate-Palmolive, one of my perks was that I got to buy stuff in the company store (located right next to the cafeteria). You could buy one or two of each item each day; everything was priced at manufacturing cost, rounded up to the nearest nickel. (This is where I got, for instance, the canister of Colgate Tooth Powder that I still have--a very low-demand item that C-P continued (and maybe continues still) to make because it cannot bear the thought of a dental-hygiene-related product that is not available with the Colgate brand on it.)

Among other things, they had the super-discount, discount, regular, premium and super-premium brands of dish soap, in small, medium and large containers. They were all 15 cents apiece, if I remember correctly. "It's all the same stuff," the cynical but well-informed woman I worked with told me. "We just put different food coloring in it and market it at different prices to different groups of people."

Today, at a store that sells fancy kitchen equipment that I covet, I bought a bottle of expensive fancy biodegradable dish soap scented with rosemary oil. It has a small, elegantly simple label design. It's one of four scents they offer; one of the others is Meyer lemon, which is almost indistinguishable from Ajax in smell (a lemon's a lemon for certain purposes). This one smells good, though, and it's got a muted, autumnal color to it. I'm quite sure it's basically just the same stuff I loaded up on for 15 cents a bottle back in 1992.