How To Wrap Last-Minute Gifts

Well, it’s Christmas eve and we’re scrambling to wrap last-minute gifts for hard-to-shop-for friends and relatives. It’s tempting just to have the elves at the mall take care of gift wrapping; so professional, with fancy paper, glue-gunned pine cones, and perfect bows. But it’s obvious you couldn’t be bothered wrapping it yourself. Don’t be embarrassed by perfectly wrapped gifts this year. CrapWrap shows you cared enough to put in the extra effort and wrapped the special gift yourself.

Merry Christmahanukwanzmadan and see y’all in the New Year.


Syrah Palin

According to Fox News, an organic wine from Chile has oenophiles (their word) in San Francisco turning up their noses. But there’s nothing wrong with the wine. It’s the name that bothers them: Palin Syrah.

To be fair and balanced, shop owner Scott Pactor said he’s looking to give Democratic Party supporters an option, too.

“We’re also in the process of looking for an Obama wine or a Biden wine, just to be balanced, obviously, just to be balanced. We want to make sure customers have options, but so far we haven’t been successful,” he said.

How ’bout That One for a wine label?


What is Spotted Dick?

In Harry Potter Goblet of Fire, Ronald Weasley tempts Hermoine with his Spotted Dick. ‘Treacle tart, Hermione!’ said Ron, deliberately wafting its smell toward her. ‘Spotted dick, look! Chocolate gateau!’

Strangely enough, Spotted Dick isn’t yet mentioned in the extensive list of misleading food names, although it has its own entry, on Wikipedia.

Spotted Dick

Here’s an interesting little article on the name, and a recipe in case you’d like to eat Spotted Dick in the privacy of your own home:

Spotted Dick, ever a favorite pudding through the years, has as much a spotted history as complexion. As for the name, it’s a case of the chicken and the egg. Known to have been served in Britain for over 200 years, this sweet cakey, currenty treat was a favorite of Captin Jack Aubrey, hero of the Patrick O’Brien novels. Legends trace it back to England, and even Ireland (where it is called Sweet Cake, Curnie Cake or Railway Cake). As old as Christmas Pudding, itself, one has to wonder, where did the name come from?

Is it, as someone has suggested, a derivation of Spotted Pudding? That theory holds that “Pudding” was shortened to “Puddink”, from there to “Puddick” and then just “Dick.” Other histories call it Spotted Dog, and while this may be editing on behalf of good taste, it makes sense.

Never had it myself, but there’s an authentic English pub in Toronto named The Spotted Dick and we ate there!


Coining words and the caprice in names

Great little article about word coinage and naming by Steven Pinker in last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, How do we come up with words? Here is a morsel, about the viral nature of baby names and the human tendency to want to be different, but not too different:

Many people assume these fads are inspired by celebrities (Marilyn Monroe made Marilyn popular) or social trends (biblical names are popular during religious revivals; androgynous names are a legacy of feminism). But sociologist Stanley Lieberson has pored through naming data and disproved every one of these hypotheses. The cause of baby names is other baby names. Parents have an ear for names that are a bit distinctive (as if to follow Sam Goldwyn’s advice not to name your son William because every Tom, Dick and Harry is named William) without being too distinctive (only celebrities can get away with naming their children Moon Unit or Banjo). The trends arise when everyone tries to be moderately distinctive and ends up being moderately distinctive in the same way.

I love that advice from Sam Goldwyn. And that bit about everyone trying to be distinctive but ending up being “moderately distinctive in the same way” reminds me of the clusters of like names we see in nearly every industry. Take SUV names, for instance, where all the automakers tend to promote a “rugged individualist” theme, then serve up the same kind of names for their vehicles, often named to evoke either the idea of exploration — Blazer, Discovery, Expedition, Navigator, Safari, Scout, Tracker, Trooper — or of a mythic rugged western pioneer landscape — Montana, Rainier, Santa Fe, Sequoia, Sonoma, Tacoma, Tahoe, Yukon. So all of you rugged individualists out there looking express your distinctiveness through your choice of ride, these big beasts of cars are betraying that ideal by blending their names in with each other.

Also fascinating in this article is the idea that naming trends cannot be reliably predicted or engineered, because they are dependent upon the behavior of the masses, and that behavior is chaotic:

Pundits often treat a culture as if it were a superorganism that pursues goals and finds meaning, just like a person. But the fortunes of words, a cultural practice par excellence, don’t fit that model. Names change with the times, yet they don’t fulfill needs, don’t reflect other social trends and aren’t driven by role models or Madison Avenue. A “trend” is shorthand for the aggregate effects of millions of people making decisions while anticipating and reacting to the decisions made by others, and these dynamics can be stubbornly chaotic.

This unpredictability holds a lesson for our understanding of culture more generally. Like the words in a language, the practices in a culture — every fashion, ritual, common belief — must originate with an innovator, must then appeal to the innovator’s acquaintances and then to the acquaintance’s acquaintances, until it becomes endemic to a community. The caprice in names suggests we should be skeptical of most explanations for other mores and customs.

Yes. Beware of “expert” opinion that labors to convince you that “scientific” explanations — linguistics, focus groups, trend analysis — trumps good old fashioned meaning, story, history, mythology, poetry, rhythm, and shared knowledge when considering names for companies, products, or services. Anything else is just putting ketchup on a potato bug.


Gimme YOP

Drinkable yogurt advertisements are gettin’ as good as beer commercials. YOP, in particular, is quite memorable, and for some people, it’s a real earworm.

If you’ve seen the advert, you know the one. Made in the UK, it shows teenagers getting out of bed, singing along to Eddy Grant’s “Gimme Hope Jo’anna” with creatively remixed lyrics, mouthed as they sleep by the magic of videography. It’s amazing.

At first, you can’t take your eyes off the video, and then, you can’t get the friggin’ song out of your head.

When I wake up in de mornin’ I’m still asleep.
I really don’t a want no toast.
I want no OJ, no tea, and no cereal.
It be a yogurt drink I’m wantin’ first.
Whoa, gimme YOP me mamma, smooooth,
YOP me mamma.
Gimme YOP me mamma, when de mornin’ come.
Gimme YOP me mamma.
YOP me mamma.
YOP for when de mornin’ come.

According to Saski, a deviant artist on the web, it’s the “best commercial ever. YOP (drinkable yogurt) is ickypoo. but the commercial RAWKS”.


When corporations agree: naming names

Orange, Telefonica Moviles, T-Mobile and Vodafone have announced the name of a joint venture that allows consumers to pay for things with their mobile phones. As with all naming projects, the quality of the name is inversely proportional to the number of people involved. When multiple corporations with different aesthetics need to agree on a name consensus quickly becomes the only goal and the results are predictable.

The “easily identifiable” new name? We’ll let the press release speak:

Tim Jones, CEO of Simpay said: “We expect the Simpay brand will be easily identifiable in our key markets for its convenience and reliability. Our aim is to see it on music websites, when making a flight booking or even when paying a bus fare. The announcement of our name and brand is a key milestone in our development and firmly establishes us on the mobile payments map.”

The Simpay website unveils another milestone, the spirited tagline that further establishes them on the mobile payments map: “Pay for stuff with your mobile”

But wait, there’s more. The website also introduces what the company surely hopes will be the next big catch phrase: “Simpay it.”


Name origins: Mountain Dew

“Yahoo Mountain Dew…It’ll tickle your innards.” Mountain Dew is one of the three best-named soft drinks of all time, the other two are tackled later in this brand love poem.

The name, the original graphics, the mascot, the product, the ad campaigns and the tagline have made an impression so lasting, that obsessed Dew fan chroniclers make Coca Cola collecting compulsives look slack by comparison. Today we honor that obsession by presenting, almost in its entirety and with added graphic, the following explanation from

What is Mountain Dew? Is it the bottle or the drink inside the bottle? Who invented this popular drink and when?

In the early 1940’s, two brothers, Ally and Barney Hartman, were bottling a lithiated-lemon (“7-up” flavor) drink as a personal mixer for hard-liquor. They jokingly called the drink “Mountain Dew” after Tennessee Mountain Moonshine.

In 1946, as a continuation of the joke, Barney and Ally added a paper label (misspelled by the artist) to their mixer showing a hillbilly with a gun and a “by BARNEY and OLLIE” inscription. The bottle was taken to a convention in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and their friends convinced them that this was a marketable drink.

old Mountain Dew bottleOn November 12, 1948 the Hartman Brothers filed for and received a trademark on the now famous label – a professional redraw of the 1946 paper label. The flavor was still the 7-up type flavor originated by them in the 1940’s.

In 1951, Ally ordered the first ACL Mountain Dew bottle. The bottle was green glass with white paint (no red) showing a hillbilly shooting at a revenuer running from an outhouse. The bottle read “by BARNEY and ALLY”. Interestingly, when the bottles arrived they were put in a warehouse and not used till 1955.

In 1954, Charlie Gordon decided that Tri-City Beverage need to add a new flavored drink and contacted his old friend, Ally Hartman. Ally sold Charlie the very first franchise for Mountain Dew and Charlie became the first bottler to commercially sell Mountain Dew (remember, Ally had put his bottles into storage). The very first commercially available ACL Mountain Dew bottle was the “by CHARLIE – JIM and BILL” bottle. Charlie had his concentrate formulated at the Tip Corporation in Marion, VA.

In 1955, based on Tri-City Beverage’s success, Hartman Beverage pulled their bottles out of the warehouse and started bottling Mountain Dew commercially. Bill Kibler left Tri-City Beverage that year which left Charlie and his plant manager, Jim Archer. They produced another run of bottles that said “by CHARLIE and JIM”.

Also in 1955, two other brothers, RB (Richard or Dick) and Herman Minges worked out a deal with Ally Hartman and started bottling Mountain Dew at their Fayetteville, NC Pepsi plant. Along with their other brother Dean, the first Minges bottle (the fourth ACL Mountain Dew bottle) was produced under the “by DEAN and DICK” label.

In 1957, Herman left the Fayetteville Pepsi Plant to start a new Pepsi plant in Lumberton, NC with his father LL Minges. They put out the fifth Mountain Dew Bottle – “by HERMAN & L.L.”.

In August of 1957, the Tip Corporation was purchased by five men: Bill Jones (it’s current President), Ally Hartman, RB Minges, Herman Minges and Wythe Hull. Wythe was a Marion, Virginia Pepsi bottler, but he never produced Mountain Dew since Charlie Gordon had that territories franchise.

On November 30th, 1957 Ally Hartman sold Mountain Dew to the Tip Corporation.

In 1959 Bill Bridgforth became the plant manager of Tri-City Beverage in Johnson City, Tennessee and worked with Bill Jones to develop a lemonade flavored drink called Tri-City Lemonade. The concentrate is produced by the Tip Corporation.

In 1960, Bill Bridgforth moved his Tri-City Lemonade flavor into the Mountain Dew Bottle which replacing [sic] the 7-up flavor. This new lemonade flavor is the flavor that is bottled as Mountain Dew today.

In 1962, Herman Minges also moves the Tri-City Lemonade flavor into his Mountain Dew Bottles to compete against a drink called SunDrop Cola.

On May 29th 1962 Tip grants it’s first franchise to Pepsi-Cola Bottling of Kinston, NC. Kinston orders the “by HOYT MINGES” bottle.

On September 2nd 1964 Pepsi purchases the Tip Corporation and as such the Mountain Dew Flavor.

In 1965, Pepsi announces the “Yahoo Mountain Dew…It’ll tickle your innards” campaign. The Mountain Dew bottle is redesigned, Willy the hillbilly (named after Willy Mcfalls) is redesigned and names are no longer allowed on the bottles. Up until this point about 174 different named bottles had been produced. However, many named bottles were still produced after 1965. Refer to the complete history for details.

For those of you still thirsting for more, we found a different site that features The Master List of Named Mountain Dew Bottles. Whew! Fortunately, far less is known about the 7-Up name. From

The popular lemon-lime flavored soft drink was created by Charles Leiper Grigg in 1929.

His fist name for the new soda was “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.” That became “7-Up Lithiated Lemon-Lime,” before Grigg settled on simply “7-Up.”

According to the official web site of 7-Up, which has been a product of the Cadbury Schweppes Company since 1995, there are several theories about how Grigg came up with the unusual name.

Here are the most plausible stories.

  1. He named it after a cattle brand he saw that looked like a “7 Up.”
  2. He thought of it while rooting for sevens during a game of craps.
  3. 7-Up has seven ingredients.
  4. The words “seven up” have seven letters.
  5. The original 7-Up bottle held seven ounces.

old Orange Crush bottlesAnd lastly but thankfully, nothing is known of the origins of the name Orange Crush. A truly wonderful name that became a slang term for an infamous defoliant used in the Vietnam War, a nickname for the Denver Bronco’s defense, a song and, sadly, a mixed drink that contains no Orange Crush but rather Vodka, Triple Sec, Orange Juice and yes, 7up. But the pictures sure are pretty.

Ahhh… drink up!