Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Dr. Bronner's

We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series.

In the late 1940s, Dr. Emanuel Bronner created his homemade soaps to promote a message of world peace. That dedication to making the world a better place continues at Dr. Bronner’s with his grandsons, David and Michael Bronner, at the helm.

Soapmaking has been a tradition in the Bronner family for five generations, dating back to 1858 Germany. In 1929, Emanuel emigrated to the United States, leaving behind his parents who were soon lost to the Holocaust. This tragedy fueled Emanuel’s passion to promote his philosophy, which encouraged all people to unite as one and to respect each other and their world.

The main vehicle for sharing that message was his homemade peppermint liquid soap, which he began packaging in the now-iconic bottles covered with dense text. And by the 1960s, the soap developed a huge following of folks who learned they could wash everything from their hands to their VW vans with it.

Dr. Bronner’s now offers a range of fair trade and organic products, including lotions, lip balms, hand sanitizer, shave gel and coconut oil for culinary or body care use.

All major ingredients in Dr. Bronner’s products come from certified fair trade and organic sources, including coconut oil from Sri Lanka, palm oil from small family farms in Ghana and olive oil from Palestine and Israel.

“Our products are about transparency and respect,” David says. “It’s about knowing your farmers and their communities, caring about their working conditions and forging long-term relationships.”

Recently, growing out of a tsunami relief project, Dr. Bronner’s built Serendipol, a facility in Sri Lanka where Dr. Bronner’s Magic “All-One!” Fair Trade & Organic Fresh-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil is produced in two varieties: traditional white kernel with the skin shaved off for a neutral aroma, and whole kernel with the skin left on for additional nutrition and slightly richer coconut flavor.

Serendipol has created economic opportunity for hundreds of farmers and workers, and ultimately helps to fund community development projects, such as life-saving equipment for local hospitals.

Dr. Bronner’s also invests part of its profits in many social causes and charitable organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and is a key supporter of the Fair World Project.

“Our family business honors the ideals of our grandfather,” David says. “We have an obligation and responsibility to do business in an ethical way that respects everyone involved, from the farmer to the end customer.”

When did you try your favorite Dr. Bronner’s product?