Some names I’ve noticed lately, for better or for worse, on my travels in the real and virtual worlds.
I spent a few days in Chicago in late April, where I spotted these Ostrim “sports nutrition meat snacks” on display at a Freshii quick-serve “wellness” restaurant. (Freshii is worth a brief sidebar. The company, which was founded in 2005 and is based in Toronto, has a peppy online presence and a brand-enforcing fondness for double-i’s: A limited-time menu special is called Biiblos – no, I don’t know what that means – and the store payment card is called Monii. “Let’s transfer energii!” chirps the copy.)
As for Ostrim, as far as I can tell, the product name is a blend of ostrich and trim, probably because the original “meat snacks” were made from ostrich. Today, though – 22 years after the company’s founding in Greensburg, Pennsylvania – Ostrim snacks are equally as likely to contain beef, elk, chicken, or turkey. Moral: Don’t box yourself in with a name that can’t grow with your company.
Also: Consider how your name might be misinterpreted.
Sounds like bone support and weight loss all in one - with surprise ostrich.— Jessica Stone Levy (@BeautyMarks) April 28, 2018
“No frills, no fancy. Just really, really good food.”
This is such a corny name – it’s On-Cor like encore, get it? – that I kind of love it.
On-Cor was founded in 1932, when corny, Frenchy brand names were perfectly cromulent.
Seeing On-Cor provoked a long-buried memory of a defunct chain of cafeterias in Los Angeles whose name was spelled Ontra but always pronounced on-tray, because you got your entrée (and everything else) on a tray, haha. And now I’m recalling another L.A. restaurant from my childhood – this one French, or French-ish – that was called Robaire’s. Easy French for stupid Americans! They might as well have called it L’Idiot.
Naturally, they have to tell you how to pronounce it. (Is the name supposed to mean “to life”? Or is it a reference to aqua vitae, which translates to “water of life”? But aqua vitae actually is a very strong brandy, so maybe not.) Also naturally, those diacritical marks show up only in the packaging; it’s just too much trouble to reproduce them anywhere else.
Let’s hope that Avitae ended up at Grocery Outlet because of a well-deserved rebranding effort.
While we’re in gratuitous-accent-land, let’s spare some sympathy for nügg [sic], whose mission “is to deliver top quality, natural face and lip masks at pocket-friendly prices, in pocket-friendly packaging.”
Face masks are a big beauty trend right now, and nügg apparently is derived from “nüggets of beauty.” Unfortunately, the first thing “nügg” suggested to me was “high-quality marijuana,” because that’s what the slang term “nug” means. (There are Nug dispensaries here in California, where cannabis is legal.)
Finally, one more from Chicago: a food truck called Mr. Quiles.
The “Mexican food” descriptor and the jalapeño “I” are tip-offs that it isn’t pronounced kwiles, to rhyme with styles. No, this is a truncation of chilaquiles (from Nahuatl chīlāquilitl, a dish made with cut-up tortillas covered with mole or other sauce), so it must be KEEL-ace. As far as I know, nobody calls chilaquiles “quiles.” (Hat tip to Mike Pope, who checked with some Mexican relatives: nope.) Also, Mr. Quiles sells only tacos; nary a chilaquil on the menu. So is this name deceptive or distinctive? I hope a trademark lawyer will weigh in.