Clean Phones for Finicky Dialers

In a scene in “Airplanes, Trains and Buses,” comedian Steve Martin gingerly juggles a public telephone with his fingertips, trying to keep the dirty object away from his face. Anthony Oliver relates to that.

In his days as a “headhunter,” jetting from pay phone to pay phone, Oliver was “always bothered” by what germs might lurk on those public mouthpieces.

Now, Oliver has done something about that. The 29-year-old Cambridge, Mass., entrepreneur is marketing OliverShields--perforated, adhesive-backed paper guards that attach to the telephone earpiece or mouthpiece much like a Band-Aid. Users zip off a removable liner to stick on the devices.

Coated on the top side with a clear polyester, the shields “act as a barrier” between callers and various viruses (including the flu) and bacteria, Oliver said. He cites studies showing many germs “remain alive and fully transmissible through the telephone up to several days after contact.”


The disposable shields, which he said will “absolutely not” leave a sticky residue on the phone, come in a package of 100 complete with a pouch for carrying.

Oliver plans to go into retail outlets and also looks to a lucrative corporate market: “We’re about to close a deal with Triple A, who’ll have it imprinted with their toll-free roadside number and send it out to all their members.”

One hundred OliverShields are available for $8 plus $1.25 for shipping and handling from OliverShields, University Place, 124 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, Mass. 02138: (800) 637-5001.

Washable Paints


For 85 years, Binney & Smith of Easton, Pa., has made Crayola crayons and paints. Their research shows the smell of their crayons is the third most recognizable smell among American adults (coffee is No. 1, followed by peanut butter). Now, the Crayola people have something new: washable Crayola watercolor paints.

The paints come in a clear plastic case and sets of eight: violet, blue, green, yellow, brown, orange, red and black. They will “clean easily from children’s skin and nearly all children’s clothing,” claims Binney & Smith.

From what won’t they come clean? “Silk,” said spokesman Brad Dexter. “Silk and silk blends are where we get problems.” Wallpaper? “They honestly were not made with that in mind,” he added.

If washable Crayola paints are here, can washable Crayola crayons be far behind? Non-meltable Crayolas? “We’re doing a lot of research on that,” Dexter said.


Washable Crayola watercolors are in retail stores for under $2.

Clean Fruit

Fruit & Vegetable Wash is a new organic, biodegradable cleansing agent that its developers claim “can remove up to 97% of all pesticides” and other surface contaminants such as fungicides and herbicides from fresh produce.

Gene Kantor, vice president of Consumer Health Research of North Hollywood, which is introducing the product, credits Harvey Diamond, co-author with his wife, Marilyn, of the best-selling “Fit for Life,” with the idea. The non-toxic formula, he said, was devised by a chemist and in lab testing has proved both effective and easy to remove by rinsing.


“If you take household soap,” Kantor said, “I suppose you can remove pesticides. But the fragrances and colorants in household detergent will penetrate the skin (of the produce) and settle into it. Instead of eating pesticides, you start eating soap.”

“Just a squirt” of Fruit & Vegetable Wash, said Kantor, is all it takes to remove potential carcinogens, including fungicides that may lurk in the waxes used to make some fruits and vegetables shiny. Take a cucumber or a bell pepper, he suggested, wash half of it in Fruit & Vegetable Wash and “see it become dull. All that shining stuff comes off.”

The product is available in an 8-oz. bottle for $9.95 plus $1.50 for postage, handling from Consumer Health Research, 8055 Lankershim Blvd., Suite 9, North Hollywood 91605.