I’m fascinated by the way a product name can supplant a more general, neutral word in common usage. In some ways, it’s a testament to successful marketing, but it also seems like our response to a successful product – the product that does everything we want and expect a tissue, or mop, or clementine to do. It’s a strangely semiotic transition, an acceptance of new signifiers which both specify and become broad in their usage. Some interesting ideas here. 🙂

Freshly Ground

Current location: 
demitasse, Los Angeles

Currently drinking: 
Soy latte, double espresso

Currently re-reading:
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace 

At lunch the other day, a coworker asked if I wanted one of her Cuties and handed me a clementine.

Since when did this word become the name for all seedless mandarin fruits? 

I mean, genericized trademarks aren’t anything new. We often ask for Advil when we just mean ibuprofen, or a Kleenex when any tissue would do. And in my house, we “Swiffer” the floor (even if we’re just mopping) and “Clorox” the counter (even when we use Target-brand wipes). How about ChapStick? Saran Wrap? Do we “Xerox” or “photocopy” a document?

The list goes on. But for some reason, it’s unsettling to see this standard marketing strategy applied to produce. Sure, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is obvious marketing. It’s a slogan — you can…

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2 responses to “

  1. i did not initially notice this was reblogged, and was like, “when did you go to los angeles?? what are you doing there?!” in other news, i like your blog.

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