What’s in A Name?

Posted on September 26, 2018


Names of anything in our world are useful to different degrees during different times of our lives. Toddlers are often called upon to display their inordinate intelligence by naming animals, when shown pictures of such animals.  They also shriek “Elmo!” (or some vague approximation) when confronted with an image of the lovable, red Muppet.

As we age, we learn more and more words, until such point in life, similar as with our SEPs, that we have clearly accumulated too many and are called upon to begin the divesting process.  Words start leaving, replaced by vague approximations of such words. We fear losing our minds, until we remind ourselves that a human being can be elected President of the United States, uttering only vague approximations of words.

We also look around us and notice that large companies regularly change their words. They do so to appear more modern, to reach an added demographic, or to lose the association they have always had with anything causing imminent death.

Two examples of this last category occurred this week. The first was Dunkin Donuts, legendary for instilling in people a need to start consuming large, fat and calorie-laden rings of dough, as soon as they woke up in the morning. Because people were consuming such food bombs before they were sufficiently awake, the company morphed itself into a place where one could also purchase copious amounts of coffee, along with their donuts.

The strategy worked brilliantly, until someone at the company looked around and realized that not everyone wanted to start their day with a donut, even if that donut had a catchy flavor like “Pumpkin Cappuccino Autumnal Welcome.” With sprinkles. To this end, the company decided to drop the name “Donuts” and to now be called “Dunkin.”

Weight Watchers, the world-famous company that convinced millions of people what fun it would be to lose and gain weight over and over in search of the elusive “goal weight”, followed. This may have been due to its new owner Oprah, who is also the spokesperson for the company. Oprah, legendary icon for billions, has always has a transformational bent. The company, will still known by their WW initials, But now, those initials stand for “Wellness that Works,” not, as Life in the Boomer Lane, originally hoped for, “Wonki Ware,” her favorite dinnerware.

Like most of what Oprah has her hand in, it’s a brilliant move. Now Weight Watchers can appeal to people who have no need to lose weight, but are, instead, concerned with wellness.  LBL doesn’t know who these people might be, but she is sure some of them must exist somewhere.

In a move in the opposite direction, Cocoa Cola became Coke in 1955, thereby being way more honest about the addictive feature of the product.  Coke and Pepsi have, recently, been losing gulpers at a fairly high rate. The best Coke can do now is to keep repeating that people drink Coke “because they can,” which just about covers any lethal activity that one could indulge in, like serial killing and heroin use.

LBL will now be on the lookout for further name changes of companies and products and services.  Along with euphemisms like “passed away,” and “correctional facility,” she is gratified that, in spite of the horror and mayhem occurring as far as the eye can see, our words will evoke a touchy feely view of life.