Mike Tighe: Undercover probe finds Buck Naked truth

Although Mike Tighe will attest that Buck Naked boxer/briefs are comfy, you won’t find him doing a pole dance anytime soon.

Back in the day, snake-oil salesmen were tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail for conning customers out of cash for miracle remedies that didn’t work.

Although we long since have abandoned that crude method of keeping the riffraff out, we still must guard against scams. Con artists still make unbelievable claims, then disappear with your money — for example, sometimes leaving only an oily, weed-infested driveway instead of the promised lifetime-guaranteed asphalt surface.

The old “buyer beware” slogan warns that if a product seems to be too good to be true it probably is. Thus, the promise of underwear that makes you feel naked gives me pause.

Yet here we are, with the new Duluth Trading Co. store in downtown La Crosse hawking its Buck Naked briefs, boxers, panties, etc., as having the ability not only to leave the wearer feeling naked but also to result in “no sweat, no stink, no pinch.”

By all appearances, the company is on the up-and-up, despite its roots in Wisconsin arch rival Minnesota. Besides, it now is headquartered in Belleville, Wis., a village that is a Madison suburb, with one foot in Dane County and the other in Green County. It has nine other stores, a website that does a land-office business and a liberal satisfaction guarantee.

But urging patrons to “ditch your tighty whities” reeks like the pitch of a flimflam man who would just as soon fleece you as look you in the eye.

As an advocate of the public’s right to know, I went undercover to in a quest for the naked truth.

I launched the probe with no preconceived notions and no conflicts of interest, other than being a fan of Duluth Trading’s wildly entertaining ads and commercials.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room (no pun intended): “Wee-ee-ee-ee-ee doggies,” as Jedd Clampett used to say: Buck Naked loincloths are expensive.

The costs of the five versions I tested ranged from $19.50 for the basic briefs to $27.50 for the Armachillo boxer briefs, touted for cooling qualities to “keep hot weather (from) scorching the family jewels.”

Those price points are eye poppers for a guy who is used to snapping up Hanes briefs on clearance for a pittance.

Duluth Trading’s prices thrust the underwear into the category of gifts suitable for a man who has everything, or perhaps as a way to convert a fellow who habitually goes commando because he doesn’t let anything come between him and his jeans.

I guess that crack requires an apology to Brooke Shields for her ’80s Calvin Klein commercials, but her tune may have changed by now. At her ripe old age, her choice may Depend on an unexpected sneeze, no?

Duluth Trading also has Buck Naked panties, and women will experience less sticker shock. After all, Victoria discovered the secret long ago that women will pay a lot for skimpy skivvies. I confirmed that with a reluctant, red-faced research visit to Victoria’s Secret’s online catalog — with my eyes focused not on products but rather on prices in the $16.50-to-$28 range.

Before I reveal my findings, I confess that — even though it’s none of your dadgum business — Mikey’s secret always has been that I’m a briefs man. I had imagined remaining one even when I become a crotchety old man.

That said, here are my findings:

  • Buck Naked briefs — Although the $19.50 black pair I tried for a day were comfortable, they were skimpier than my normal cotton briefs. They violated the “no pinch” guarantee, but there was no sweat. As for the stink, my only indicator is that Jazzy, our underwear-obsessed and thieving cockapoo, sniffed them but didn’t roll in them and put them on her head, then run madly around the house like she often does not only with my briefs but also with panties she filches from guests’ laundry piles. I give the briefs a 2-buck rating on a 5-buck scale.
  • Buck Naked boxer briefs — This $22.50 selection was a pleasant surprise, making me wonder whether my bias against boxers has been a bunch of bollix. The dark cobalt color is as pleasant to behold as the britches are to wear. 4.5 bucks.
  • Armachillo short boxer briefs — I expected my test run of these “jade cooling”-infused shorts to be a laugher. After all, it defies logic to believe that even $27.50 undies could be so cool that wearing them is like sitting in a horse trough of ice, as the package portrays. Remember how hot it was Sunday? I was amazed that the boxer/briefs kept me cool as a cucumber. I even had to get up in the middle of the night to don flannel jammy bottoms because my buns were cold. The Baltimore blue boxer briefs also have a waistband that is much softer than DT’s other models. 5 bucks.
  • Buck Naked boxers — Aha! I was right all along in berating boxers. Granted, there was no sweat or pinching in this classic red pair at $22.50, but sorry — no sale. 1 buck.
  • Buck Naked extra long boxer briefs — Another hint that boxers and briefs are a cool combo, this $24.50 rendition is very comfortable, and Kate assessed them as fashionable even on a granddad bod. This pair busted the buck barometer to a 5.5-buck rating.

Proving that even an old dog can learn new tricks — one leg at a time — Duluth Trading’s “coup de crotch” prompted me to join Buck Naked Nation, in the boxer/brief combo camp.

Although I didn’t feel totally naked wearing them, and I won’t be doing a pole dance like the guy in the commercial, they were so light that I occasionally checked to see whether I forgot to don my drawers.

As far as the basic briefs and the boxers that didn’t pass muster — for me, at least — I’m tempted to test Duluth Trading’s “no bull guarantee” and return them: “Simple, unconditional, no nonsense, NO BULL.”

Naw, that might give Duluth Trading honchos knots in their knickers.

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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