Mountain Dew, the neon-yellow-green soft drink brand owned by PepsiCo, evidently failed to consult anyone in Scotland before it introduced its new ad slogan, “Epic thrills start with a chug.” If it had, it would have learned that chug is Scottish slang for masturbate. (Jelisa Castrodale for Vice, via Language Log)
That word: It does not mean what you think it means. Not in Scotland, anyway. (Via @jaysebro)
Earlier this week, a Utah grocery chain pulled three soda brands from its shelves after a customer, Kate Boyle, tweeted that she was “shocked and horrified” by the name of one of the brands: “Not See Kola.” (Boyle’s account is now private.)
Nazi cola? Oh no, demurs Not See Kola’s distributor: It’s pronounced note-zee, which means “lake distress” in German. Riiiight.
The other brands are “Orthodox Jooce” (made from Concord grape juice), and “Leninade,” which I wrote about in a 2011 post about brands that appropriate the imagery and language of 20th-century Communism. All three brands are distributed by Real Soda in Real Bottles, headquartered in Gardena, California.
It was the second time in two months that a Utah customer had criticized the Not See Kola name on social media. In April, Macy Moon wrote on Facebook that she was “very disappointed to see something so tasteless come from a Utah company.” The company’s response to Moon could hardly be construed as an apology. “We respect and understand that everyone has differing senses of humor,” the company wrote. “Our goal is to provide a wide variety of sodas and flavors that everyone can enjoy.”
In other words: Get over yourself! It’s just a joke!
The chef and food writer Anthony Bourdain, who died by suicide last week at 61, famously wrotein his 2000 memoir Kitchen Confidential: “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn.” One can only imagine how Bourdain would have scoffed at pegan, an awkward new foodie word that’s meant to suggest a blend of paleo and vegan.
Pegan protein bars from Julian Bakery (Oceanside, California). A trademark for PEGAN THIN was registered to Julian Bakery on May 25, 2018.
You’ve probably seen the emoticon, a stripped-down rendering of a half-smiling skeptic.
The symbol’s official name is shruggie (or, alternatively, smugshrug). In an appreciation published in The Awl in 2014, Kyle Chayka noted that it could be used to express nihilism or “bemused resignation,” and was even “a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe.”
I’m seeing the shadow of a shruggie in a new generation of ads whose dominant feature is a copy-intensive combination of insolence and indifference. The ads are aimed at digital natives – people under 35 – yet appear in traditional non-digital media: print magazines, public transit. Their grim forerunner, now 18 months old, is the Fiverr campaign, which I wrote about last year, calling it “mean spirited”; the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino went further and called it “dystopian.” The current crop is slightly less cynical but still snarky and smug with a hint of that existential shrug.
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.
On a recent trip to Costco I bought a box of RXBAR protein bars, which contain several healthful ingredients, none of which, according to the package, is bullshit. Good to know!
From the RXBAR website:
Guys who are into CrossFit would never indulge in B.S.
As you probably know from my periodic appearances in Strong Language, the sweary blog about swearing, I’m constantly on the lookout for sweary brand names and slogans. When I saw “No B.S.” on the RXBAR box, I remembered a similarly frank promise made earlier this year by Everlane, the “radical transparency” retailer.
A century ago, dozens of American girls were named Milady because of the success of a new product: the Milady Décolleté Gillette safety razor, developed to remove underarm hair. (And did you know that “underarm” was coined as a euphemism for “armpit”?) (Baby Name Wizard)
“Well, Paul Ryan, you’re a free man now,” began the New York Times editorial that appeared on April 11, the day the Wisconsin congressman announced he’d be stepping down as House speaker and leaving Congress in January. Three paragraphs down, the editorial counseled Ryan about how to put his liberation to good use:
You don’t have to worry anymore about weathering a primary challenger from the far right. You don’t have to truckle before a blast of presidential tweets. You can use your remaining authority and credibility with your colleagues to pass legislation to make it harder for the president to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and other officials at the Department of Justice. On your way out the door, on that crucial question, you still have a chance to put yourself on the right side of history.
To truckle before stands out in that paragraph. Its meaning is clear enough in context – something about deference, obsequiousness, sycophancy – but where does it come from?
How best to mark the end of the shitshow that was 2017? With a pilgrimage to an institution that mocks and celebrates all manner of flops, lemons, fiascos, misfires, and fuckups, of course. Which is how I found myself last week at the Museum of Failure in downtown Los Angeles’s Arts District. The traveling installation, housed in the A+D (architecture + design) Museum, is open to the public through February 4; it then returns to its permanent home home in Helsingborg, Sweden.