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March 07, 2012


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This could not mean, must not mean, that Kraft will retire Velveeta.

BelVita should be prepared to be called brekky biccy in England.

My father claimed to have named Velveeta (though I always thought it was in 1919) in an office contest at a Cleveland ad agency (Franklin Bruck, if i'm correctly remembering his curriculum vita) where he was a copyboy, and it never struck me as the sort of thing one would make up. He said it was his least favorite of three names he submitted (other 2 lost to time); who would find it appealing to visualize chewing velvet? He went on to a 25-year career in advertising and a 15-year career producing and writing for game shows on radio and tv. In his honor I prepare an astonishingly popular broccoli-Velveeta dish (well, that's not the right ingredient order) each Thanksgiving. Velveeta, for anyone interested in the food chain, is a technological marvel made by solidifying the whey remaining from the production of American cheese, which in turn is made from the leftover whey of virtually every cheese produced in Wisconsin.

This kind of situation is bound to happen in multinational mergers of consumer products companies. The confusion that the Velveeta/belVita marks provoke is not confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or connection of the goods, because their origin up the corporate ladder is the same. Kraft wins no matter which product you buy! It's more, as you explained, an internal marketing challenge. But I'd guess the name recognition of the Velveeta mark was probably a major factor in bringing belVita to the US - calling to mind such a famous brand with impunity is a nice option to have.

@Dave Blake: True or apocryphal, your father's story is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

@Jessica: I knew you'd have some trademark wisdom to impart!

I can hardly wait for Emeril to market his own brand of packaged meat "products" and call it "Bam!"

The phrase "a cookie-like biscuit" must be equally confusing to British and American readers, but for different reasons.

The distinction between biscuit and cake was tested in the UK courts a while ago:
On this basis, should (American) cookies be considered cakes?

While there could be Spanish dialects that preserve some distinction, in standard spoken Spanish (both Iberian and Latin American) there is no distinction at all between the sounds represented by the letters ⟨b⟩ and ⟨v⟩ (both are plosive /b/ or fricative/approximant /β/ depending on the surrounding sounds).

The belVita marketers were also very active on Twitter. Soon after I tweeted you about Kraft companies having Velveeta and the similar belVita, I got offered a free box, as did seemingly everyone who tweeted "belVita." (I didn't even have to contemplate if it would be "biscuit-ola" because I didn't want their 6 or 7 grams of sugar per ounce.)

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