I was in a Walgreen’s in South Berkeley, looking for something else entirely, when I was distracted by a shelf full of health and beauty products I’d never noticed, from brands catering to the Spanish-speaking market. I put away my shopping list and took out my camera and notebook.
For starters, I appreciate a bilingual name pun.
Campana is Spanish for “bell.”
It says here that Asepxia is “the leading brand in Latin America for acne treatment.”
I assumed that the name signifies “aseptic,” but I stumbled over the pronunciation. In Spanish, X usually sounds like H in the middle of a word (Mexico is “meh-hee-co”), but in some words of indigenous derivation it sounds like S or SH: the Mexico City district of Xochimilco is pronounced Socheemilco, for instance. I’m guessing Asepxia is pronounced “asepsia,” with the X inserted for trademarkability and a science-y look.
Goicoechea is a Basque (euskera) surname, possibly the name of someone involved with the company, which is based in Mexico and called Genomma Lab International. The company’s been around since 1926, but I couldn’t find out much more about it. Is “Genomma” supposed to suggest “genome”?
I was also struck by “reaffirming,” which sounds very motivational. A U.S. equivalent would say “firming.”
My photo wasn’t sharp enough, so I’ve substituted one from Walgreens.com.
The illustrations on this packet of McCoy cod-liver-oil tablets look as though they haven’t changed since 1932. The real McCoy!
The lady on the left is grimacing as she takes her dose by the spoonful (“desagradable” – disagreeable), while the lady on the left is enjoying her pastillas, which have “neither taste nor odor.”
Yes, the male-enhancement products were right next to the cod-liver-oil tablets. Hombrón means “big man.” You already know what Super Macho means. I liked el toro, whose image isn’t used frivolously: the product claims to contain “bull glands.”
This particular Walgreen’s is always deserted when I shop there, so I’ve never drawn any conclusions about its customers. Apparently enough of them speak Spanish to justify bilingual signs like this one on almost every aisle:
“Salta de Alegría” doesn’t have quite the promotional zip of “Get a Hop on Happy” – it’s closer to “Jump for Joy.”
After my Spanish-immersion excursion I was primed to notice the nametag on my sales clerk: MAREA, which translates to “tide” (as in low or high, ebb or flood). She’s lucky she wasn’t named Mareo, which means seasickness.
Also see Names in the Wild: Japantown.