What's In a Product Name? Why, Deception Of Course!

The following is an article from The Best of The Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.

Product names don't necessarily reflect the truth of the products. Ever heard of Corinthian Leather? Think New Jersey, not Corinth, Greece. How about Häagen Dazs? Nothing Scandinavian about it. Read on to find out how a product's name can deceive you ...


[YouTube Link]  

Sounds Like: Fancy leather from some exotic place in Europe - specifically, the Greek city of Corinth. The phrase "rich Corinthian leather" was made famous by actor Ricardo Montalban, in ads for Chrysler's luxury Cardoba in the 1970s. (The seats were covered with it.)

The Truth: There's no such thing as Corinthian leather. The term was made up by Chrysler's ad agency. The leather reportedly came from New Jersey.


Sounds Like: An imported Scandinavian product.  

The Truth: It was created by Ruben Mattus, a Polish immigrant who sold ice cream in New York City, who used what the New York Times called the "Vichyssoise Strategy":

Vichyssoise is a native New Yorker. Created at the Ritz Carlton in 1917, it masqueraded as a French soup and enjoyed enormous success. When Mattus created his ice cream, he used the same tactic ... He was not the first to think Americans would be willing to pay more for a better product. But he was the first to understand that they would be more likely to do so if they thought it was foreign. So he made up a ridiculous, impossible to pronounce name, [and] printed a map of Scandinavia on the carton.

The ice cream was actually made in Teaneck, New Jersey.


Photo: knellotron [Flickr]

Sounds Like: There's pudding in the pops. The Truth: There isn't. Family secret: One of Uncle John's relatives was involved with test-marketing the product several decades ago. When John asked him about it, he laughed, "Our research shows people think that if it says 'pudding' on the label, it's better quality or better for you. They're wrong. It's really the same." Anyway, we suppose that's why they still sell it with "pudding" on the label.


Sounds Like: A small independent brewer in Northern California. The flyer says:
Brewmasters Gery Eckman [and] Mitch Steele ... always wanted to brew a special ale in Northern California just for California beer drinkers ... so they created Pacific Ridge Pale Ale. It's produced in limited quantities, using fresh Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest, two-row and caramel malts and a special ale yeast for a rich copper color ... Handcrafted only at the Fairfield brewhouse.

The Truth: In tiny letters on the bottle, it says: "Specialty Brewing group of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Fairfield, California."

(Photo: Bottle Cap-O-Rama)


Sounds Like: The drink was sweetened with nothing but Sweet'N Low. The Truth: As Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo write in The Misfortune 500, "MBC Beverage, Inc.", which licensed the Sweet'N Low name ... discovered that consumers wanted the natural sweetener NutraSweet rather than the artificial saccharine of Sweet'N Low. So they sweetened Sweet'N Low soda with NutraSweet, a Sweet'N Low competitor."


Sounds Like: "A folksy brand of cigarette, produced by a down-to-earth, tractor-driving guy named Dave for ordinary people who work hard and make an honest living." According to humorist Dave Barry, here's the story sent to the media when the cigarettes were introduced in 1996:

Down in Concord, N.C., there's a guy named Dave. He lives in the heart of tobacco farmland. Dave enjoys lots of land, plenty of freedom and his yellow '57 pickup truck. Dave was fed up with cheap, fast-burning smokes. Instead of just getting made, he did something about it ... Dave's Tobacco Company was born.
The Truth: Dave's was a creation of America's biggest cigarette corporation, Philip Morris, whose ad agency unapologetically called the story a "piece of fictional imagery." (Photo: SourceWatch)
The article above is reprinted with permission from The Best of the Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. The Bathroom Reader Institute handpicked the most eye-opening, rib-tickling, and mind-boggling articles from everything they have written over the last ten years and carefully crammed them into 576 pages of the book. Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute has published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. Check out their website here: Bathroom Reader Institute.

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Here's a story (perhaps apocryphal) from a friend of mine who worked at Subway for years. Just before the whole Jared ad campaign came out, Subway was looking for ways to market themselves as a healthier fast food alternative. They didn't have any light or low-fat mayo yet, just regular, so they wanted to try to find a low-fat mayo to over as an option. Well, their mayo was already pretty low fat (as far as standard mayo's go) and they couldn't find a low fat version that tested well. So, the solution: rename the normal mayo they sold as Light Mayo and introduce a higher-fat version of their mayo as the plain old normal mayo. Like I said, I don't know if that story is true, but if you look up the nutrition fact for light mayo and compare it to Subway, it seems to pan out.
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