Feelthy brand names

Warning: English-centric post ahead. Mirth and mockery will be enjoyed at the expense of well-meaning auslanders who are unaware that their native brand names sound silly and/or scatological on our shores.

Exhibit A: Pschitt. This French soft drink was created by Perrier in 1954; the name (in which the P is silent) is meant to be imitative of the sound of uncapping a bottle. “For obvious reasons the name does not play well in English-speaking countries,” observe the trademark lawyers at Brown & Michaels in Ithaca, New York.



Exhibit B: Smeg. Founded in 1948 in the northern Italian town of Guastalla, this kitchen-appliance company makes sleek stainless-steel ranges and retro-styled refrigerators in colors like cherry red, canary yellow, and lime green. Too bad the name–an acronym for Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastalla, or “enamelling factory in the village of Guastalia in the province of Emilia”–sounds like a shorter rendering of smegma, which, as our own Sesquiotic has informed us, is also known as dick cheese.

smeg toaster

In the US, you can buy a four-slice Smeg toaster at West Elm for $189.95–not cheap, but that big-ass nameplate has got to be worth at least $59.95.

Exhibit C: Plopp. Here’s what the Scandinavian Stuff website has to say about this chocolate-caramel confection:

Plopp stands for joy and nostalgia. Plopp is associated with successful birthday parties and eyes full of expectation. A Swedish favourite with a twinkle in the eye that has followed us since we were kids.

Do I need to comment on that glistening copy? No, I do not.


I will point out, however, that Plopp’s parent company is called Cloetta, which to me sounds uncomfortably, if aptly, like cloaca. And in the interest of fairness, I’ll add that the pop-culture magazine Complex, from which I swiped the Plopp photo, ranks Plopp #39 among the 50 best candies from around the world. The inevitable disclaimer: “While we recognize the onomatopoeic implications, we urge you to embrace the Plopp; it tastes kind of like a Carmello, which isn’t anything like shit. Which is what you must think of when you say the word Plopp out loud.”

Exhibit D: Pipi. Drink excrete, repeat. Pipi is a cult brand in Split, Croatia, according to a tourism website:

Split has its very own soft drink called Pipi produced by Dalmacijavino. Pipi is Split’s version of Fanta and Miranda and is very much loved by the Splićani. Pipi is a cheery carbonated orange drink that most will remember drinking as THE drink of the 80s and 90s and today is the drink of nostalgia that brings you back to your youth.

Again with the nostalgia!

Scrutinizing the label art, I deduce that “Pipi” derives from Pippi Longstocking, the beloved Swedish literary character, whose hair was famously orange, like the soda, and not blonde, like the illustration.


I am also obliged to report that when I searched online for “Pipi orange” I was served many disconcerting links to French medical information about orange-colored urine.

Exhibit E: Shito. All the reliable sources insist that this spicy sauce, found throughout Ghana, is indeed the shit. But that’s just coincidental, according to a Wikipedia entry:

Shitor Din, commonly called Shito, is the word for pepper in the Ghanaian native language (Ga) of the capital Accra. … Shito sauce consists primarily of fish oil and/or vegetable oil, ginger, dried fish, prawns and/or crustaceans, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and spices.

Mother Africa Shito

You can buy ready-made shito, like the Mother Africa brand (via Amazon). Or you can make your own shito.

For more examples–Blue Peter canned fish (Norway), Superglans car wax (Netherlands), Zit soft drink (Greece), et al.–see the chart of “Ill-Fated Foreign Products,” in International Marketing, a textbook published in 2013.

I’ll close with an acknowledgment that there are smutty-sounding brand names to be found close to home.

Hotard, the brand, has nothing to do with hos or -tards. (For insights into the latter, see Iva Cheung’s post, “Retarded Progress.”) Au contraire, this half-century-old bus line is named for its founders, the Hotard family. Hotard is a surname of French origin and unknown meaning, found “almost exclusively in Louisiana.”

16 thoughts on “Feelthy brand names

  1. Jason Preater March 4, 2015 / 3:49 pm

    I particularly liked a brand of crisps in Spain in the eighties called BUM. They were very cheesy and made your fingers smell. In France at the same time they had a cleaning product called CIF, so we naturally enjoyed calling out across the campsite, “Hey, Roger. Have you got the syph.?” Well, it kept us happy at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon K March 4, 2015 / 5:16 pm

    I may be naïve, but I suspect it’s more a case of UK-US cultural misunderstanding. What’s wrong with Blue Peter as a brand name, for canned fish or anything else?

    In the UK, Blue Peter is one of the longest running children’s TV programmes – does this sound filthy to Americans?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy Friedman March 4, 2015 / 5:22 pm

      “Peter,” like “dick,” is a common slang term for penis.


      • Simon K March 4, 2015 / 5:29 pm

        Blimey. I’ll never look at Peter Purves in the same light again.

        Liked by 1 person

    • John Cowan March 6, 2015 / 10:21 am

      Blue Peter is the name of a nautical flag meaning either “the letter P” (in a message) or “Ship leaving soon, return at once”. It’s a small white square on a blue background. See Wikipedia for an explanation of how the show came to be called that: there’s no connection with Purves’s name.

      Of course, lots of names can mean ‘penis’: Dick, Peter, John Thomas, Willy, and Johnson are just a few of them. I even found “Chairman Mao” on one list of such terms; you can google [names for penis], but be prepared for some body blows. “Ozymandias”, on the other hand, would be way the fuck over the top.


  3. Jonathon Green March 4, 2015 / 5:19 pm

    SMEG(ma) Not just dick cheese. Also duck butter, head cheese, knob yoghurt, knob stilton and of course knob cheese


  4. Y March 4, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    ‘Merdre’, in Jarry’s Ubu Roi, was rendered as ‘Pschitt’ in the Connolly-Taylor English translation.


  5. datatater March 5, 2015 / 12:44 am

    Not feeelthy, but not very appetizing is the Japanese energy drink Pocari Sweat.


    • Nancy Friedman March 5, 2015 / 12:53 am

      I had the “Sweat” names on my original list (there’s a PET SWEAT beverage, too), but because this blog is about sweary language, not icky language, I chose to leave them out. There’s a whole category of brand names that just sound non-specifically yucky–see, for example, SNOXIN, a Canadian beauty (!) brand. Trademark lawyer Jessica Stone Levy wrote about it: http://beautymarksblog.com/2015/03/portmantickled/

      Liked by 1 person

      • datatater March 8, 2015 / 8:57 pm

        Oh my lord – I had totally forgotten about that one. That was a confusing conversation: “You like to have cow piss orange juice?” “Well, umm, not if it’s going to hurt her.”


  6. lievenm March 5, 2015 / 6:57 am

    Lotus once had a cookie on the Belgian market named ‘spunk’. For some reason, they changed the name when trying to export to the anglophone world.


  7. John Cowan March 6, 2015 / 10:23 am

    Irish Mist whisky didn’t sell too well in Germany, where Mist = ‘dung’.


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