The Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice – literally, “the point at which the sun seems to stand still” – occurred at 9:24 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, June 20. But for some brands, the solstice never ends.
Last November the film director and winemaker Francis Ford Coppola opened a new restaurant in Geyserville (Sonoma County). It has an unusual menu for a California Wine Country restaurant, or indeed any California restaurant: fry bread tacos, venison chili, rotisserie prairie chicken, pine ice cream. It’s located inside a winery with a historic name: Virginia Dare. And then there’s the six-syllable name of the restaurant itself: Werowocomoco.
How do you translate a colloquial, nonliteral expression like Trainwreck—the title of the new Amy Schumer feature film—into non-English languages? IMDb has a list of global akas; Mashable has helpfully re-translated some of them. (Not included in the Mashable list: Y de repente tú (“And suddenly you”), probably the most romantically inclined of the bunch. In France, by the way, the official title is Crazy Amy—yes, in English.
Translation of the French Canadian title, Cas désespéré.
Three guys were watching HBO’s “Silicon Valley” when it occurred to them to create a dictionary of jargon used on the show. The result is Silicon Valley Dictionary, where you’ll find definitions for terms like This changes everything (“Nothing has changed. Pure marketing”) and Awesome journey (“used when a startup has failed”).
Gone are the days when an aspiring wine brand had to sound aristocratic. Today’s successful wines have names like Jealous Bitch, The Ball Buster, and Le Vin de Merde. “Dirty Wine,” my new post on the Strong Language blog, examines the trend and catalogues the players. Take a look, but be forewarned: Strong Language calls itself “a sweary blog about swearing,” and it delivers on that slogan—but in the most edifying and even scholarly way.
Related: Untitled, a restaurant at New York’s Whitney Museum; Untitled Startup, Inc., which eventually chose a less baffling name; The Nameless Café in Oakland, California (which has no listings as well as no name); and The Nameless, a nonprofit organization, also in Oakland, that is defunct as well as nameless.
So much cleverness obviously begged to be imitated. And so behold (or Be.hold) Be toothpaste from Crest, which I spotted at Walgreen’s earlier this week.
Crest launched the “innovative new line” back in January. According to a press releasefrom Procter & Gamble, Crest’s parent company:
“Crest is always looking at trends to develop products that give consumers a unique yet effective experience,” said Rishi Dhingra, Marketing Director, Procter & Gamble. “Crest Be® was developed out of the research and insights that consumers are looking for experiential purchases. The new toothpastes not only provide the foundational benefits needed for oral health but allow for an unexpected experience through flavors that offer personal expression.”
As you can see, not only does Be toothpaste share a name (albeit an unpunctuated one) with Be. wine, it also duplicates the commanding tone. “Be Dynamic” is the brand’s “lime spearmint zest™” flavor; “Be Inspired” is “vanilla mint spark™”; and “Be Adventurous” is “mint chocolate trek™.” Yes, the TMs are [sic].
Chocolate-flavored toothpaste is weird enough; I’m not convinced I want to invite a trek into in my mouth. (All those muddy boots…) Some unexpected experiences are best left unexperienced.
Names that incorporate “ever” are more popular than, well, ever. But the concept has been around for more than a century. Here are three old-school “ever” brands and eight that have appeared since 2005.
Founded in St. Louis in 1896 as American Electrical Novelty & Manufacturing Company). The company changed its name in 1905 to the American Ever Ready Company, which was shortened to Eveready in 1917. Since 1980, the Eveready Battery Company has sold both Energizer and Eveready batteries.
Now associated with boxing, Everlast was founded in the Bronx in 1910 as a swimwear manufacturer:
Seventeen year-old Jacob Golomb, the son of a tailor and an avid swimmer, was dissatisfied with swimsuits of the time that barely lasted a season, and began making suits that he guaranteed would last for a full year.
In 1917, a young boxer named Jack Dempsey asked Golomb to make protective headgear that would last more than 15 rounds; two years later, Dempsey won the world heavyweight championship wearing Everlast gloves.
In 2002 Everlast extended its sporting-goods brand into men’s grooming products with the “Everlast Original 1910” label. (The cologne has base notes of patchouli, leather, tonka bean, and musk.)
Everlast is also the stage name of the American rapper, singer, and songwriter Erik Francis Schrody.
Everclear is a brand of pure grain alcohol whose original formula (190 proof, or 95 percent alcohol) is illegal in 14 states. (California and some other states sell a 151 proof version.) The brand name was first used in commerce in 1917 by the American Distilling Co.; the brand is now manufactured and sold by Luxco of St. Louis.
The rock band Everclear, formed in Portland, Oregon, in 1991, takes its name from the alcohol brand.
But few commercial portmanteaus rise to those heights. Instead, what we see is a lot of chop-and-jam (or perhaps choja, as the blend trend would have it).
Last year, for example, saw the debut of Burger King’s Satisfries, a combo of “satisfy” and “fries” that satisfied no one. (It doesn’t help that the word sounds almost exactly like “saddest fries.”) Sonic Drive-Intortured phonetics with Spicedictive, a distinctly nonaddictive word. The New York Times devoted many column inches to a bourbon-rye blend called Bourye, which I see as Bour Ye and want to pronounce like “Hear ye, hear ye!”
Also in 2013, Subway introduced the Flatizza (flatbread/pizza), which invites adolescent chortling* about flat tits.
Image via A Walk in the Words, who called Flatizza “a phonetically problematic portmanteau.” Indeed.
And I’m sorry to say that we are far from finished with this tired trend. Today marks the rollout of Framily, from Sprint.