Category:
Odd Names

SHT and SCAT

In his 1983 book Big Business Blunders: Mistakes in Multinational Marketing, David Ricks tells the following story:

A Japanese steel firm, Sumitomo, recently introduced its specialty steel pipe into the U.S. market. Sumitomo used a Tokyo-based, Japanese agency to help develop its advertisements. The steel was named "Sumitomo High Toughness," and the name was promoted by the acronym SHT in bold letters. So bold, in fact, that the full-page ads run in trade journals were three fourths filled with SHT. Located at the bottom of the page was a short message which ended with the claim that the product was "made to match its name." It simply cannot be overemphasized that local input is vital.

I've been able to find ads for SHT, such as the one below, but none exactly like the one that Ricks describes. Which doesn't mean the ad doesn't exist. Just that it isn't in any journals archived online.

Ocean Industry - July 1984



However, among the ads for SHT that I was able to find, I found one that actually improves (and possibly complicates) Ricks's story. Because it turns out that Sumitomo had another product, Sumitomo Calcium Treatment, that it abbreviated as SCAT.

Once I could accept as an honest mistake, but coming up with scatalogical abbreviations twice seems intentional. I'm guessing either someone at Sumitomo thought it was funny, or someone at the Japanese agency was having a joke at their expense.

Ocean Industry - March 1980

Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 27, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Business, Products, Odd Names, Excrement, 1980s

The new Perth Museum

In order to find a name for the new museum opening in Perth City Hall, city officials surveyed the public and considered over 450 ideas before deciding to call it "Perth Museum." bbc.com



This recalls the time, in 1973, when the Army Materiel Command (AMC) held a contest to name its new headquarters and, after considering 524 different proposals, awarded the prize to the guy who suggested calling it the AMC Building.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 11, 2022 - Comments ()
Category: Museums, Odd Names

Kinki Nippon Tourist


The Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. was founded in 1947. By the 1970s it had become Japan's second-largest travel agency. But trouble began to emerge when, during this same decade, Japanese tourists showed up in Europe and America, often carrying bags emblazoned with the name "Kinki Nippon Tourist." Naturally, this attracted some attention.

London Daily Telegraph - Oct 25, 1972



Saffron Walden Weekly News - July 1, 1976



The name 'Kinki' referred, of course, to the Kinki region in the south of Japan. Also known as the Kansai region. It had nothing to do with the sexual preferences of the tourists. But in a possible case of truth in advertising, the Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. was, in fact, involved in a scandal in 1979 for having arranged sex tours abroad for Japanese businessmen.

Vineland Daily Journal - Nov 28, 1979



The company quickly learned what its name meant in English, so when it opened a branch in America in 1974 it didn't use the Kinki name. Instead, it called itself Kintetsu International Express (it's still in business).

Likewise, the name Kinki has become a problem for other organizations in the Kinki region that have an international presence. For instance, in 2016 Kinki University changed its name in English to Kindai University, in order to spare the staff and students embarrassment when they traveled abroad.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 10, 2022 - Comments ()
Category: Innuendo, Double Entendres, Symbolism, Nudge-Nudge-Wink-Wink and Subliminal Messages, Odd Names, Asia, Mistranslations

Atomic Victory Trotter

Seems that everyone called him 'Mike' instead of 'Atomic Victory.' But even so, all his official documents must have had his name listed as 'Atomic Victory Trotter'.

Wilmington Morning News - Nov 17, 1945



Louisville Courier-Journal - Aug 14, 1953

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 06, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Odd Names, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, 1940s

What does your name smell like?

Henry Gray of Newcastle suffers from "lexical-gustatory synaesthesia," which means that he experiences people's names as smells or tastes. He says that the name 'Kirsty' smells of urine, and 'Duncan' is "like a bird dipped in smoky bacon crisps."

Makes me wonder what my name would smell like. I'm sure it's not anything good.

More info: Daily Mail

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 05, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Odd Names, Smells and Odors

United States v. 350 Cartons of Canned Sardines

This case is known in legal circles primarily because of its odd name.

It occurred in 1934 and involved 350 cartons of canned sardines shipped from California to Pennsylvania. The FDA examined some of the cans at its lab in Washington DC and decided that they contained "decomposed animal substance." Therefore, it ordered all 350 cartons to be destroyed.

The sardine company challenged this order in court. It lost the initial case, but won on appeal. Though, by that time, two years later, the sardines may already have been destroyed.

As far as I can tell, the case represented a power struggle between the California inspectors (who had approved the fish for shipment) and the federal ones. The FDA's decision seems to have been somewhat arbitrary. Its inspector decided the fish were decomposed not because of how they smelled or tasted. He said they smelled fine. He concluded they were 'decomposed' simply because they looked slightly pink — which was probably because they had been cooked in tomato sauce.

Read more about the case here.

Case and Comment - Autumn 1934

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 13, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Odd Names, Lawsuits, 1930s

Mrs. Sparrow found a sparrow

1952: Mrs. Florence Sparrow found a sparrow in her loaf of bread.

Spokane Chronicle - Feb 29, 1952

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 17, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Food, Odd Names, 1950s

Travel through Europe in Ohio

If you want to visit Venice, Rome, Warsaw, Dublin, Berlin, Amsterdam, or Vienna, there's no reason to leave the United States. In fact, one could visit all these places without going outside the borders of Ohio.

This is because Ohio has many cities and towns named after cities in Europe. Far more than any other U.S. state. You can find all the city names listed above in Ohio, plus many more. Think of a European city, and there's probably a town in Ohio with the same name.

Some people go on tours of European cities in Ohio, in lieu of actually going to Europe.

H2G2.com explains why Ohio has all these copycat names:

One reason why some cities were named after geographic areas is because of the canals built in Ohio during the early part of the 19th century. An enormous workforce was required to build the canals, so immigrants were brought in from Europe. Apparently, towns wanted to attract these immigrants to live in their communities to stimulate economic growth. In order to do this many places were often named after the location they had travelled from.

However, Ohioans have put their own unique stamp on many of these copycat names by pronouncing them differently. For instance, Milan, Ohio is pronounced "MY-lun". Some more Ohio pronunciations:

  • Lima (LY-ma)
  • Versailles (ver-SAILS)
  • Moscow (MAHS koh)
  • Russia (ROO she)
  • Vienna (veye EH nuh)
  • Berlin (BUR lynn)

More info: 20 Ohio Towns You're Probably Pronouncing Wrong

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 11, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Geography and Maps, Odd Names

The Other JFK

John Francis Kennedy served three terms as Treasurer of Massachusetts, from 1954 to 1960. He was legendary for putting almost no effort (or money) into campaigning. He made no speeches, nor did he advertise. He didn't even have any relevant experience for the job. Before becoming state treasurer he had been a stockroom supervisor at the Gillette Safety Razor Company.

By all accounts, the only reason for his political success was the resemblance of his name to John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

John Francis Kennedy probably would have kept running for state treasurer if he could have. But term limits prevented him. He tried running for governor in 1960 (while JFK was campaigning for President), but his winning streak finally ended.

More info: Commonwealth magazine, Our Campaigns

John Francis Kennedy



Miami News - May 22, 1960

Posted By: Alex - Sat Nov 20, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Odd Names, Politics, 1950s

Portable Pig Launchers

In the pipe industry (that is, pipes through which things flow, not the pipes one smokes), 'pigs' are defined as inspection gauges that travel through pipes (see wikipedia).

This leads to some odd product names, such as Portable Pig Launchers, Bi-Directional Pigs, and Subsea Pig Trackers.

iNPIPE Products offers a full line of portable pig launchers.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 01, 2021 - Comments (7)
Category: Odd Names, Farming

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