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


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 ( 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.


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

Owen Smells and Mary Knows

In its July 5, 1943 issue, Time magazine noted the marriage in Pryor, Montana of Owen Smells and Mary Knows.

The marriage only lasted three years, but in that time they had a daughter, Theresa, who eventually married Joseph Rock Above and became Theresa Smells Rock Above. lists a grave for Owen Smells which may or may not be the same Owen that married Mary. I'm not sure. But the dates seem about right.

Helena Independent Record - Oct 1, 1946

Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 08, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Odd Names, Marriage, 1940s

Mr Burger

Mr Burger, a Melbourne-based chain of hamburger restaurants, recently offered to give "free burgers for life" to anyone who would legally change their last name to "Burger." They specified that this meant seven burgers a week, for as long as the person maintained the name Burger. However, anyone whose last name already was Burger, was disqualified from getting the award.

But then the restaurant heard from the Government Solicitor's office (the agency responsible for processing name-change applications), informing them that it would not process any applications for people changing their name to "Burger" for the purpose of winning burgers, because such applications "are not in the spirit of the name-change process." So the competition was canned.

At least, that's the story Mr Burger is telling everyone. Perhaps the restaurant actually got cold feet, realizing too many people might have taken them up on their offer.

As far as last names go, Burger really isn't that bad. I might have done it, except I'm not interested in eating burgers every day for the rest of my life.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 02, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Odd Names, Junk Food

How Eleva Got Its Name

The story goes that Eleva, Wisconsin got its name due to an unfinished painting job. The town, founded in 1880, was originally called New Chicago. But in 1899 workmen partially painted the word "elevator" on the side of a new grain elevator by the railway track, but stopped because it got too cold, leaving just "Eleva." Railroad passengers assumed that was what the town was called, and eventually the name stuck.

Eleva's wikipedia page repeats the paint job story as the official history of the name, but in the references there's also a link to a 1908 reference book — A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways — and here we find a different history of the name:

Eleva, Trempeleau County, Wisconsin. This town was started in 1880 and was named by R.P. Goddard of Mondovi, Wisconsin, on the suggestion of Mr. Gates who formerly lived here. The origin of the name is unknown to Mr. Goddard, but he thinks Mr. Gates found a place of that name in France.

So I guess you can take your pick of which story you like better.

Mt. Vernon Register-News - Jan 21, 1964

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 08, 2016 - Comments (8)
Category: Odd Names

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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, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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