Destination: Maine, Memories, and My Theory of Inevitable Marks

Into each life some rain must fall; after 39 years of vacationing in Maine together, my parents’ long run ended when my father succumbed to complications of kidney failure in April. But the tradition must live on, and so I joined my mother for the annual pilgrimage to honor lobster, shopping, and really long walks on the beach, and a now 40-year tradition.

The lobster, shopping, and long walks on the beach were, as advertised, unparalleled. And it had been years since I’d savored the joys of New England ice cream; I will report that the Bay of Figs ice cream at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream was possibly the best I’ve ever tasted.

And then there were the Maine-centric trademarks, two to be precise, that reignited my interest in defining a theory of what I call “inevitable marks” – marks that are logical, inevitable plays on words based on a feature of the goods or services, or of their geographic origin. You could think of it as a subset of descriptive terms but I like to think of them more as inevitable – insofar as it’s an inevitability that someone will come up with this idea for a mark or business name.

For Exhibit A, I can think of nothing better than this:

 

(I kept the picture large because the dude really was out of central casting.)
Maine Squeeze for a juice bar? It’s a natural, right? I’m sure there’s a Maine Event for a hair salon too. (Okay, there is, but it’s in Florida, so that makes no sense and opens a branding opportunity in Maine, right?)

And then this one:

I can’t deny that it’s clever – but it’s just never going to be protectable beyond the instantaneous recognition of that cleverness.  Why? It’s meat in Maine. But again, clever. As any name in Maine that uses the state’s two-letter ME abbreviation would be (ME Time for a spa, perhaps?) But that’s still going to be geographically descriptive, and lots of Mainers will want to use ME as a prefix, and should be able to.

Anyway, as you can see, I’m still formulating my inevitable marks theory, and was glad to have the opportunity to do so on a road trip with Mom where we could reminisce about Dad.

Camera roll catch-up: More brands of my youth

That’s right, PSSSST! dry spray-on shampoo. A revelation 40+ years or so ago and a product that probably started returning to the market about five years ago (I’m guessing – I suddenly started getting it in my Birchbox shipments). Yes, I can remember what it smelled like, but no, I cannot remember any commercials or catchy jingles. And what a great onomatopoeic trademark!

Camera roll catch-up

Yes, I’ve been remiss. And each time I scroll through my iPhone to find a photo, I come across photos I’ve taken expressly for the purpose of blogging them. So here comes a new feature to showcase my photographic impulses.

The name is – [chef’s kiss] – just wonderful. The mark is even registered. However, a bit of a wrinkle there: the registration covers this stylization:

Trademark image

The owner filed its section 8 declaration using a photo of the product as it appears in my photo above. Is this the same commercial appearance? But the PTO accepted it. But this raises my eternal question of why don’t people simply file for the word mark rather than a stylization that they might change five years down the road?

 

 

Destination: New York

Please excuse the lousy photo quality here. We were running to meet friends on a visit to NY last month, but I had to stop to get the shot:

Yes, that’s CALLAHEAD … for portable toilets. The name elicited a huge groan among our party!

(Psssst, Callahead – your registration has been cancelled! It sure looks to me like it’s in use!)

Set in my ways

I didn’t like “Herban” as a cute play on “urban” eight years ago (see my post here).  Guess what? I still don’t like it, even when the use is more closely connected to “herb” as it is here:

And at least from the outside, there was nothing to suggest why it might be “Denver’s Most Distinctive Dispensary.” However, it may be one of the best dispensary locations in Denver – it’s on the same block as Sweet Action Ice Cream, which I can confirm has some of the best pistachio ice cream this side of Sicily.

 

Rocky Mountain lifestyles

Took a rare trip downtown with the kids on Sunday (suburban life tends to engulf us on the weekends) and they were tickled to see this sign:

Spawn of trademark attorneys that they are, the girls appreciated both the cheap “Come Say High” pun and the suggestiveness of Euflora as a name. Hashtag blessed, as they say.

Destination: Appleton, Wisconsin and the wilds of I-80

The second daughter has now been comfortably (if humidly) installed at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. It’s a lovely little school with an undergraduate conservatory, and we will be happy to see our daughter enjoy a music-filled liberal arts education there.

Of course, there were items of interest along the way; after the freshman convocation I spirited my husband away to the historic Stone Cellar Brewpub (no relation, alas), where I’d dined with Daughter #1 when touring Lawrence, to enjoy the food and drink that makes Wisconsin famous: beer and cheese curds.

curds

They did not disappoint. We also learned that Stone Cellar is Wisconsin’s oldest brewery still in operation. Here’s an example of a bottling from when it was the George Walter Brewing Co., circa 1918:

beer

But the time came for us to bid our daughter farewell, and after a stop to visit cousins in Illinois (the best kind of cousins – ones who own a spectacular bed & breakfast with superb food [and yes that was a shameless plug]), we were left with a long and boring drive back to Denver on I-80.

What, then, besides listening to Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends, kept us awake and motivated? Great barbecue in Des Moines, and wondering what could’ve possessed anyone to come up with this name for a fast food joint that we saw throughout Nebraska:

runza

Because all I can think of is someone saying in a crappy Italian accent, “don’t eat there, it gives you da runzas.” (Also, trademark pro tip: you don’t need to use the ® symbol every single time the mark appears on your website, particularly when you’re referring to the company rather than the stores and services they provide.)

Anyway, thanks to our younger daughter for following in her big sister’s footsteps by choosing a school outside of our customary geographic comfort range and thus allowing us to see more of the USA than we ever expected to!

 

 

It’s a real shirt store

Not sure how I feel about this Breckenridge shop from a 43(a) standpoint:

shirt & ernie's

False suggestion of a connection? Not visually, with those emphatically-non-Muppet characters, but aurally? Discuss amongst yourselves.

 

Destination: Denmark; or, read this!

Spotted in Denmark: Two brands that fall into the category that Nancy Friedman calls “imperative-verb business names.” I like to call them hortatory marks.

The first is the fabulous hotel we stayed in, STAY Copenhagen. No, the name wouldn’t work in the US. “Where’d you stay?” “STAY.” “No, I asked you.” You get the picture. No matter, it was a fantastic sleek, Danish modern (duh) hotel where they upgraded us to the penthouse suite for no apparent reason, and where we luxuriated in style with views of the up-and-coming neighborhood and the river. Not to mention the heartbreakingly attractive staff and the cute grocery store downstairs with fresh strawberries to die for … Okay, I digress. But STAY plays cute with its name, as you can see here on the Do Not Disturb sign:

stay copenhagen

And if you plunk around on its website, you’ll see they really leverage the “stay” wording, in a way that I’d hate for a US trademark client but can be much more permissive about where English doesn’t reign entirely supreme.

In the same imperative vein, we were exhorted to have lunch at Yo! Sushi at the Copenhagen airport:

yo sushi

My reaction? More like Yo! I’m still hungry but I have no money left!

 

 

Destination: Sweden; scatology or eschatology?

Our beloved 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Sexauer (I kid you not!) is responsible for probably fully half of my prodigious vocabulary. Every week he assigned a list of spelling and vocabulary words from the book we were reading, and we dutifully memorized those definitions verbatim.* So when I was uploading this photo and considering what to write in light of my scatology theme, I had a flashback to one of those tests:

rump lyft

Yes, that’s right: Eschatology – “the study of great ends.”

Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your server.

_______________________
* I’m really not kidding. To wit: “Epigram – witty pointed saying.” “Sophistry – unsound series of clever-sounding reasoning.” “Atavistic – return to the primitive.” Mr. S generally presented the definition of this last one by jumping down on all fours underneath an unwitting student’s desk. There truly was nothing like 10th grade honors English at Fox Lane High School back in the 70s.

 

Destination: Disney World’s Wee Britain and Japan

Okay, actually it’s the UK, but really, after you’ve seen the episodes of Arrested Development that take place there, would you really call Epcot’s World Showcase land anything else?

The shopping in all of Epcot is excellent, though there’s always some product name that elicits eye-rolling or guffawing. Like this one, for example:

epcot mint balls

 

I could’ve bought some to see how, exactly, Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls would keep me all aglow, but I erred on the side of caution.

And this one, from the Mitsukoshi department store in Epcot’s Japan:

Hi-chew

Naturally, the only reply to the question “Would you like a Hi-Chew?” is “Gesundheit.”

Thanks. Don’t forget to tip your waiter.

Portmantickled?

Many years ago, I encountered (and am desperately sorry I cannot remember where) the charming phrase “lying around like a lox.” Anyone who’s seen a full side of lox will find the phrase beautifully evocative. I then extrapolated from that the coinage “loxin’ around the house,” something I do a lot of, often with dogs in tow.

Well, a recent visit to Ulta brought me another variation on the theme:

snoxin

That’s right, snoxin. You’re loxin’? You’re snoozin? You’re both right – you’re SNOXIN!

A visit to the indeed labs (and despite the fancy smooshed “i” and “n” the URL is “indeedlabs.com”) website offers a wealth of other marks to probe, including “Matrixyl 3000 … [with] messenger molecules, Matrikines” and “SYN-AKE … an effective wrinkle smoothing compound”; re the latter, is it short for “synapse ache” or am I just falling into an ingredient name-generation syn-ake pit? See what I did there? Oy. As for Matrikines, that definitely rings of sci-fi and not science to me – perhaps a tribe of female supercows?

Fun fact about “snoxin” as a name? When you say it out loud while shopping at Ulta with your teenaged daughter, you will dissolve into hysterics and people will think you’re crazy.

In any event, would you like a visual aid to better grasp what I now conceive of as snoxin? Because snow’s coming again, and I’m sure we’re going to be back at it soon.

doges snoxin

You’re welcome.

 

Destination: MUC (the Munich airport)

I always say that at any given spot in the Munich airport, if you chose to drop to the floor and give it a lick, you’d do yourself no harm: It’s just that clean. Back when we first visited in 2004, with daughters then eight and six, I nearly wept with joy at the notion that I could send the girls into the restroom stalls without fear of their contracting some grave malady (hello, JFK!)

The airport also has gorgeous examples of German cars on display (no, we didn’t bring one home this time), and the usual array of tantalizing retail establishments and their entreaties to spend. One shop I can’t help stopping in is the Swatch store; I am a long-time Swatch owner, having purchased my first in Paris back in 1984 and my most recent last summer in Honolulu. We don’t have a Swatch store here in Denver, which is good and bad: I’d have even more of them if we did, but because we don’t I never get replacement batteries and the watches eventually die and even new batteries don’t work. So my jewelry drawer looks a bit like a Swatch graveyard, I confess.

All this is to say that we dutifully checked out the Swatch store at MUC, and I got a huge chuckle out of this great wordplay:

Scuba libre

 

Destination: London. And 2014.

Just got back from a week in rainy and sunny London, where there was lots to see, if you could get through the crowds. One highlight was the fish and chips here:

There’s nothing in my book like a good fish pun (see, e.g., the “Sole Man” video from the Fish episode of Bill Nye The Science Guy,* featuring my brother-in-law as part of the “Salmon Dave” duo), and while beyond pricey, the dish was outstanding.

Lots more to show you, but until then, all the best for a wonderful 2014.

____________________
*Unavailable online, sadly, due to copyright restrictions.

Birchbox Bonus

Ever see a product name and think “this has got to be someone’s inside joke?”

If anyone has any inside scoop, or I’m too old to catch an obvious bit of slang, let me know. Meanwhile, I do like their product name Quicksand for hair wax/fixative, and if, as they say, it’s the “Secret Goop Behind David Beckham’s hair,” (a) who am I to dispute it; and (b) it may be the product I’m looking for to keep my pixie coif in place.

We are not amused

As I’ve said before, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I’ll say it again:



I’m not even going to link to this one because it gets worse. Normally I’m a great booster of our local bounty, but this time I’ll pass. (Plus, salad dressing and marinades are about the easiest things a home cook can whip up, so I almost never buy bottled anyway.)      

Destination: Kona / Catch of the day

Who wouldn’t go for it at a place with this name?



Armed with a coupon for a free appetizer handed out cheerily by the Bite Me fishing operation, we tucked into a delicious lunch – where they then handed us a coupon for 20% off a purchase at their fish market. Seared ahi for dinner!