Names. We each have one. Our pets have them. Our childhood blankies and stuffed animals often have them. Flowers, rivers, clouds, cars, clothes, foods and pretty much anything you can think of has a name. What does it matter? A lot. For humans, we have our name our entire life, unless you take the legal steps to change it. If your parents name you Gwendoleneestapeesta, sometimes a legal name change is in order to more easily navigate life. Names can depict power, demureness, happiness, passiveness and a whole lot more. Names are powerful. Being named Daisy has significantly different connotations than being named Duke. The reality is there is a lot in a name.

The recent Kentucky Derby brought the whole name game to the forefront. People bet on horses on the name only. Well, not those who know about horses and betting, but there’s a lot of us who focus more on the hats and drinks and have no useful knowledge that leads to betting on real odds. So, we look to the names. Even if we’re not officially betting, we claim our winner among our friends as we toast with a Mint Julip (which I find somewhat undrinkable). This year’s winner is Always Dreaming. Is that akin to always losing, always the bridesmaid? Turns out that’s not the case, as this horse delivered on the dream.

Think about products that have soared and those that have sunk, and the names that may have led to their demise. Sometimes it’s a translation issue like IKEA’s Fartfull Work Bench for children. They rolled it out in 2005 and I’m sure kids had a heyday with the name. Parents, not so much.

But, what about products that still exist? Ladies, are you ready to rub some Nad’s all over your body to remove hair? Please tell me the person who developed that name was on some sort of mind-altering substance. And honestly, how does the product still exist. I guess there’s only one thing left to say. Go Nad’s.

Names can attribute to a car’s reputation. Cars like the Yugo and Pinto may have been crappily built, but those names did not help. When I think about Dodge Durango or Nissan Pathfinder, I’m more inclined to conjure up thoughts of sturdiness and strength. Then there’s the Ford Probe and the Hummer. Really? I can envision it now. A gaggle of the best and brightest, the oldest topping 25, from a top-notch ad agency sitting in a room and landing on Probe as the next car name for Ford. They’re all high-fiving and self-aggrandizing, only later to be found stumbling drunk at a bar laughing about how they sold a name like Probe, to Ford’s big brass.

Let’s discuss vegetables. I don’t know about you but rutabagas, leeks, and lima beans don’t exactly carry names that have me running in to nosh on them. And what about Cracker Jacks? I know the name is derived from the notion that they are of “excellent quality” – a real “Cracker Jack.” That may have made sense in the late 1800s, but it’s not working for me today.

Don’t you just want to chomp into this rutabaga?

Oh, and don’t get me started on Crayola Crayon names. Somehow Burnt Sienna has evaded retirement, but Dandelion went down this year and joins it fellow retirees that include raw umber and blizzard blue. Frankly, I didn’t think blizzard blue was all that bad, but in its place came inchworm and wild blue yonder. Who’s at the helm over at Crayola?

Names. We can’t always live with them, but we certainly can’t live without them. Good and bad. They are here to stay.


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