I've been thinking about backward-spelled brand names (ananyms) ever since I posted about Serena Williams's clothing company, Aneres. At the time I couldn't think of other successful backward names, so here's an attempt to set the record straight.
Adohr Milk Farms: The Adohr dairy, established in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley in 1916, was named for owner Merritt Anderson's wife, Rhoda--spelled backward, that's Adohr. (I remember Adohr milk in foil-capped glass bottles--delivered to our doorstep--from my childhood. I also remember Adohr's slogan: "Adohr-able milk for Adohr-able babies.") At one time the world's largest milk producer, Adohr was sold in 1990 to Stremick's Heritage Foods, which had already swallowed another (forward-spelled, much-missed) landmark of my childhood, Carnation Dairy.
Serutan: Another oldie. Serutan was a fiber-based "natural" laxative whose slogan was "Read it backwards." It was widely promoted on radio and TV from the 1930s through the 1960s. Apparently it's still on the market.
Harpo Productions, Harpo Films, Harpo Studios: Owned by Oprah Winfrey and based in Chicago. The three companies' shared name is "Oprah" spelled backward.
Lorac Cosmetics: Founder Carol Shaw's first name spelled backward.
Scaasi: Before he was "an American icon," the founder of this couture label was Arnold Isaacs from Montreal.
EDUN: Pronounced "eden" (I think), EDUN--"nude" spelled backward--is an "ethical clothing" line launched by U2's Bono, his wife Ali Hewson, and New York clothing designer Rogan Gregory. From the EDUN website: "Our mission is to create beautiful clothing while fostering sustainable employment in developing areas of the world."
Trebor Mints: "A minty bit stronger," these confections from Cadbury Schweppes date back to 1907; the brand is a reversal of company co-founder Robert Robertson's first name.
Reeb: This pilsener from Shanghai Asia Pacific Brewery (owned by Heineken) is "beer" spelled backward.
Siana Editions: In the mid-1930s, writer Anaïs Nin had a difficult time finding a publisher who would accept her erotic novels. So she--along with Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, and others--founded Siana. It's Anaïs spelled backward.
Nesnah: The custard powder known today as Junket was originallycalled Nesnah by the product's inventor, a Dane named Christian Hansen who reversed the spelling of his surname. ("Junket" is Danish for "milk with rennet," and yes, it is indeed remarkable that the product has managed to survive two off-putting brand names.)
Sniagrab: It's "bargains" spelled backward and the name of a huge Labor Day ski sale that's been a Denver tradition for more than half a century. Sniagrab was started by local retailer Gart Sports, which eventually took the sale into markets outside Denver. In 2003, Gart was bought by mega-chain Sports Authority, which has continued (and expanded) the event. The "grab" syllable makes this spelling reversal particularly apt, don't you think?
Finally, one partial-backward name: TruTV, the new name (effective Jan. 1) of Court TV, a division of Turner Broadcasting System. (Court TV's slogan: "Seriously entertaining." TruTV's slogan: "Not reality. Actuality.") (No, I'm not making this up.) In an article published last month, Broadcasting & Cable gave this account of the name change:
Although Turner said it worked with three naming companies[!] that produced 4,500 [!!!] potential names, it was [Court TV General Manager Marc] Juris who came up with “tru.” Not only did it sum up what he and other Turner executives thought the network’s primetime programming was -- true stories -- it is also the last three letters of “Court” spelled backward. (Brackets and boldface added.)
I can't decide what 's funnier about that story: the cuckoo justification for the dumb name or the fact that Court TV has a general manager named Juris. Wouldn't it be great if his wife's name were Prudence? (Hat tip to POPwink.)
To see more ananyms--including many names of towns and cities--go here. And if you know of other backward-spelled brand names, please leave a comment in the usual place.