Odd Names

Pho Keene Great

For some reason, the city of Keene, New Hampshire is objecting to a Vietnamese restaurant's plan to call itself Pho Keene Great.

More info:

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 04, 2019 - Comments (8)
Category: Innuendo, Double Entendres, Symbolism, Nudge-Nudge-Wink-Wink and Subliminal Messages, 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

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


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

Page 2 of 4 pages  < 1 2 3 4 > 

weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
Alex Boese
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.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •