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By Any Other Name They Still Are Snot October 29, 2007

Posted by voolavex in Uncategorized.

Sometimes it takes only one commercial to answer the question: How low can we go?”  I nominate the Mucinex ads (Torre Lazur McCann Advertising) currently running on U.S. TV for their unadulterated use of snot – anthropomophic snot – to sell a product that has been around since before Western man appropriated the US from the Indians  and gave them smallpox as a bonus.  Guaifenesen – Mucinex’s generic name – has been in expectorants and decongestants and cold remedies forever. It is derived from a New World tree bark. What’s new is that we now have an entire community of green snot boogers telling us how good it.  These repulsive snot wads get married, have snot babies, decorate their condo/nostrils, form sporting teams, appear on late night TV and generally look disgusting when you think about what they represent. (Roger Jackson – a formidable voice actor plays the snotty Mr. Mucus).  I thought it might be enlightening to explore snot – something we all have in common.  It will not answer the question “Why would anyone think snot creatures are appealing?” but it will clear up some booger mysteries.  I found these passages online at http://library.thinkquest.org/J0112390/Boogers.htm.  Pick and choose the parts you like best.

To better understand snot and boogers, lets start with mucus. Mucus is thick, sticky, slimy and a good thing. Mu-u-u-u-cus! Mucus is so important that it’s found all over nature. Inside your nose, it’s a thick, sticky, wet pudding-like gunk that coats your skin and hairs. Mucus is made by, mucus membranes. Your body has mucus membranes in all sorts of places: the stomach, intestines, nose, lungs, eyes, mouth, and the urinary tract all contain mucus membranes that secrete mucus. For now, we will “pick the nasal membranes and mucus” as our topic of interest. Mucus becomes very important with every breath that you take.

    Each time that you take a breath, there are three very important things that happen.

1. The air that you breathe in is cleaned by tiny hairs in your nose, trapping little bits of dirt and dust and germs that come in through your nose.

2. As you breathe, the air is made slightly wet. Your nose having damp passages does this.

3. The next thing that takes place when air enters your nose is that the air is warmed. This happens because the blood flows through the lining of the nose and gives off heat.

    Even though these three actions are to keep you healthy, germs can sometimes get into your respiratory system. The germs start growing in your nose, throat and lungs. You have a cold!

    When you have a cold the linings of your nose and / or throat swell. Thick, clear liquid called mucus forms and its purpose is to wash away the germs. The mucus builds up and blocks the air passages. This is what causes a stuffy nose and a cough.


    “Snot”, is just another word for mucus. Snot is beautiful human slime. When bits of stuff get stuck in your nose hairs, it’s the mucus or snot that surrounds the stuff and traps it.


    Boogers are dried-up snot and dirty nose debris. They can be small, slimy lumps or big, dry, brown clumps. Either way, boogers are filled with the junk that’s in the air you breathe. Dust, pollen, germs, sand, fungi, smoke, small particles from outer space! The good thing about your mucus is that it helps trap all this junk and keep it from getting close into your lungs.


    It seems like the main function of mucus, snot, boogers, whatever you want to call it is to trap particles, junk in the air inhaled through the nose and keep our lungs clean. Exhaling through the nose helps to expel, to push out the mucus with the trapped dirt in it. Our nose really acts like a vacuum cleaner for the air, and blowing our nose is like emptying the bag.

FYI – In some countries boogers are called bogies, snotters, boogies and bogeys.  (My son always called them snouts and would not pick his nose because of the way the snout looked.  A friend’s mother acknowledges nose picking by asking “Having a party?’ And when you reply “No” she will casually say :”Then why are you cleaning your halls?” ) And there is also the school yard chestnut – “pick me a winner” or “pick one for me while you’re up there”.  Some folks root, some use the pinkie to defuse the act and some never seem to do it at all. 

The question of who decided what these snots should look like is one mystery I do not feel the need to solve.  The book mentioned below is one I recommend for a deeper look.

By The Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance. 64pp. Simon and Schuster $24.50 (Hardcover)


1. Dr. Sledge - October 30, 2007

Such a shame that your tome on mucus fails to mention the active motor in airway clearance- the cilia. Without the whip-like action of the cilia in continual synchronous beat, mucus would merely remain in the lung (or sinuses). In fact, the vast majority of mucus cleared from the airways (via the mucociliary escalator apparatus) is actually swallowed (not expectorated) where the contents are quickly and harmlessly degraded by the very low pH stomach acid.

Go ahead and try it. Swallow. See, you just swallowed some mucus right now. Repeat often as necessary.


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