Category:
Odd Names

Bus Starts

Back in 1985, city officials in St. Louis decided that the term 'bus stop' sounded too negative, so they voted to rename them 'bus starts.' 1800 new 'bus start' signs were duly installed.

A year-and-a-half later, when it became clear that people were confused by what a 'bus start' was supposed to be, the city conceded defeat and went back to using the traditional term. This, of course, meant buying even more new signs.

St. Louis Post Dispatch - Mar 28, 1985





St. Louis Post Dispatch - Aug 24, 1986

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 06, 2018 - Comments (4)
Category: Odd Names, 1980s, Bus

The Initials Effect

Found by psychologist Nicholas Christenfeld. The effect is that if the initials of your name spell out something positive (such as J.O.Y. or G.O.D.) you'll likely live longer than someone whose initials spell out something negative (B.A.D. or A.S.S.).

From his article in the Journal of Psychomatic Research (Sep 1999):

One's attitude about oneself, and the treatment one receives from others, might be affected, in some small but measurable way, by stigmatic or salutary labeling due to one's name. If names affect attitudes and attitudes affect longevity, then individuals with “positive” initials (e.g., A.C.E., V.I.P.) might live longer than those with “negative” initials (e.g., P.I.G., D.I.E.). Using California death certificates, 1969–1995, we isolated 2287 male decedents with “negative” initials and 1200 with “positive” initials. Males with positive initials live 4.48 years longer (p<0.0001), whereas males with negative initials die 2.80 years younger (p<0.0001) than matched controls. The longevity effects are smaller for females, with an increase of 3.36 years for the positive group (p<0.0001) and no decrease for the negative. Positive initials are associated with shifts away from causes of death with obvious psychological components (such as suicides and accidents), whereas negative initials are associated with shifts toward these causes. However, nearly all disease categories display an increase in longevity for the positive group and a decrease for the negative group. These findings cannot be explained by the effects of death cohort artifacts, gender, race, year of death, socioeconomic status, or parental neglect.


San Francisco Examiner - Mar 28, 1998

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 05, 2018 - Comments (4)
Category: Odd Names, Science, Psychology

Hello, my name is Abcde

Apparently it's an increasingly popular girl's name. From stuff.co.nz:

The name garnered attention after a story about a seven-year-old girl with autism, called Abcde Santos (pronounced, "ab-suh-dee"), hit US news in 2014. Abcde of California was turned away by Santa Claus after waiting in line because he was scared of her service dog, a pit bull, CNN reported at the time.
Vocativ subsequently uncovered that there were 328 girls in the US with this unusual moniker. 328!

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 09, 2018 - Comments (6)
Category: Odd Names

Creap Creamer

It's one of the most famous examples of a Japanese product with a weird English name.

The name is a portmanteau of 'creaming powder.' When the marketing team came up with the name back in 1960, they evidently didn't realize about the word 'creep.' Or maybe they figured that few Japanese consumers would know what a creep was.



The way the company discusses the product on the product website results in some (presumably) unintentional humor: "This creap comes in a light, convenient plastic bottle... This creap comes in a light, small plastic bottle."



More info: You Don’t Know, Creap! 3 Odd Facts About Japan’s Awkwardly Named Coffee Creamer

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 23, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Odd Names, Products

Cat’s Phee on a Gooseberry Bush

Wikipedia cites a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc called "Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush" as an example of "wine humour." The site notes, "Humour is usually rare in the world of wine, and wine jokes may only be amusing to wine obsessives."

Apparently the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms didn't find the name amusing. They forced the maker of the wine to change the name of the U.S. import version to "Cat's Phee on a Gooseberry Bush," which doesn't even make sense.

The 'cat's pee' in the name was a reference to the fact that Sauvignon Blancs are occasionally known to have that scent.



Text from, Drink This: Wine Made Simple by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 15, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: Odd Names, Alcohol

Lota Cheek

Apparently Lota Cheek was her real name.

She was the daughter of Georgia farmer Leon Cheek. After winning a beauty contest in 1921, in which she was declared America's prettiest girl, she became a successful actress in New York City. In 1922, she was involved in a scandalous divorce case (her husband was simultaneously married to another woman). By 1925, she had remarried and took the name of her new husband, Sanders. The last record I can find of her is from 1927, when she was featured in an ad for Colgate toothpaste.

Wilmington Morning News - Jun 15, 1922





Baltimore Sun - Dec 8, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 30, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Odd Names, 1920s, Actors

Cardinal Sin

In April 1976, Pope Paul VI named Monsignor Jaime L. Sin, Archbishop of Manila, as a new cardinal, thereby making him Cardinal Sin. From wikipedia:

His title and surname as Cardinal Sin (another term for a deadly sin) were a point of humour in the Philippines and for Filipino Catholics. Examples included "The greatest sin of all: Cardinal Sin," and even his own pun of "Welcome to the house of Sin" that he used to greet guests at Villa San Miguel, the Archbishop's palace in Mandaluyong.


Cardinal Sin



Clarion Ledger Sun - May 16, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 15, 2018 - Comments (7)
Category: Odd Names, 1970s

Christophpher

June 1996: A Danish mother, Pia Agergaard, won a 9-year court battle to be allowed to name her son Christophpher. The Danish courts had tried to prevent her using the unorthodox spelling, fearing it would have a detrimental effect on her son. They insisted she use Christopher or Christoffer instead.

Bismarck Tribune - June 13, 1996



In 2008, a Danish newspaper (avisen.dk) checked back in with Christophpher, who by then was 21. He reported that he had never experienced any disadvantage on account of his name:

When Christophpher was born in 1987, his parents wanted to give him the distinctive name to signal how special he was as their firstborn.
But for nine years it did not go. The Church Ministry refused to approve the special spelling. The name could be detrimental to the child, it said.
That argument shakes Christophpher at the head of today. Because he has never actually experienced his name as a disadvantage. He has never been teased because of it. And he has not had other problems with the name, for example, when he should have a passport, he says.


Christophpher

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 01, 2017 - Comments (9)
Category: Odd Names, 1990s

Zzyzx Road

If you ever drive from LA to Las Vegas, you'll encounter Zzyzx Road just outside of Baker, CA.



Many people wonder about the origin of this name. It came about, indirectly, because of the invention of the telephone, which led to the publication of phone directories, which then led people to want to have either the first or last name in the directory.

Entrepreneur Curtis Springer decided he wanted to be the last name in the directory, so when he opened a health spa at a natural springs in the Mojave Desert he called it Zzyzx Springs, so he could promote it as "the last word in health." By 1965 he had convinced the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to rename the road running to the springs Zzyzx Road. (It used to be Soda Road).

However, it turned out that Springer didn't own the land on which he built his health spa. He was squatting there illegally. And after 30 years of legal action, the Bureau of Land Management finally succeeded in kicking him off it. Since then, the land around there has been managed by California State University, which uses it as a Desert Studies Center.

It's been noted elsewhere on WU that several movies have been named after Zzyzx Road, including the record-holder for the lowest-grossing Hollywood movie ever.

More info: wikipedia

Los Angeles Times - Nov 20, 1945



Springer wasn't the only person who used the name Zzyzx to be last in the directory. There was also a Jack Zzyzx in Albuquerque, and Isadore Zzyzzx in Madison, Wisconsin. Vladamir Zzyzz took last position in the Pittsburgh directory.

I think that the Internet has made it less popular to invent z-themed last names, since not many people use phone directories any more. Sometimes one will be dropped on my front door step, and I just throw it in the trash.

Albuquerque Journal - Dec 3, 1988

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 20, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Odd Names

The BS Patriots



1971: After relocating the Boston Patriots from Boston to Foxborough (a half-hour south), team owner Billy Sullivan decided he needed to rename the team. So they became the Bay State Patriots.

A month later he changed the name again, to the New England Patriots. The reason this time: a radio announcer had referred to the team as the "BS Patriots." Sullivan explained, "We didn't think that abbreviation would reflect well on either the team or the league."

The Palm Beach Post - Mar 23, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Wed Apr 05, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Odd Names, Sports, 1970s

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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