Jose checks in with a follow-up on that mysterious “Hispanic Shampoo” section on Aisle 4 at the Flatbush Ave. Duane Reade: “Some of the products are made in Latin America (the DR, Honduras, Panama, Miami). However, other so-called Hispanic products are made in Germany and–get this–by special decree of Her Majesty, the Queen of England. The products range from cod liver oil capsules, gel, tonic, ‘Hongo Killer’ athlete’s foot powder, and, yes, shampoo. Or as my mom used to say, champu.”
[“Hongo Killer”? qu’est-ce que c’est? Fa fa fa fa, fa fa fa fa fa fa…]
ALSO, we got this note from noisefootprint: “I was in there recently, and a couple of young [Latina] women got riled at that sign … they were in that aisle getting their hair-care products, and kept making loud remarks about how they were reduced to the ‘ethnic’ section. ‘The ETHNIC section! We have to shop in the ETHNIC section now’…”
Actually, the weird thing about the “Hispanic Shampoo” section is that it contains only ONE type of shampoo: Mirta de Perales (Lemon Fresh and Herbal Fresh varieties, along with Hair Conditioning Rinse and Oil Treatment).
Maybe de Perales lobbied Duane Reade to change their signage? After all, she is quite the entrepreneur… Somewhere out there, you can find a Miami Herald article from the early 1990s that profiles de Perales’s Algeresque rags-to-riches story. It begins like this:
“On July 15, 1987, President Reagan, speaking at the White House, pointed to Mirta de Perales at a special function honoring minorities and said: ‘That’s the American dream.’ … Perales, Miami’s undisputed exile cosmetics queen, smiled. Fifty years ago, she began her career in the beauty business charging a nickel for a haircut in her hometown. Today, she owns one of the 500 richest Hispanic businesses in the United States–her own line of beauty products.”