So I was digging through old files tonight, trying yet again to get to the point where I have one simple, neat hierarchy of the gigabytes of digital crap which I’ve accumulated in the last 10 years. During the process, I stumbled across a little cache of writing exercises which had never seen completion, and in particular, the effort reposted here. I think I sat on it expecting to polish it up at a later date, but (at least) a year after writing, it made me laugh, so what the hell; I guess it was ready after all…
In the vast pantheon of multinational corporations, few are more hell-bent on willfully causing international confusion and consternation than the Hershey’s empire.
Even after two years on the West Coast, as a Brit I am still not 100% sure what lies under any given tastefully-designed candy bar wrapper.
For example, let us take the American staples “Milky Way” and “Three Musketeers”. Both fine blends of sugar, fat and various unnatural syrups for sure. But for me, years of childhood wonder must be suppressed in order to remember that, in fact, what Americans call “Milky Way” is marketed in my homeland as a “Mars Bar”. Meanwhile the American “Three Musketeers” is, in the Land of Tea and Questionable Dentistry, a “Milky Way”.
(A note for the pedantic: “Three Musketeers” is not exactly the same as the British “Milky Way”. The British version has denser nougat, but there’s a definite shared design ethic going on.)
The transposition of these names is particularly, egregiously confusing, but they’re not the only Hershey’s confections to suffer from odd transatlantic translations.
I am convinced that somewhere in the Product Naming Department of Hershey’s there is a small and slightly odd little man by the name of J. Edgar Grosderriere. As a boy, J. Edgar had an unremarkable and perfectly happy early childhood; a close-knit group of young schoolfriends; loving and supportive parents. Unfortunately, around the age of 8, J. Edgar’s class began studying the French language. With a distressing inevitability, J. Edgar’s classmates quickly improved their French-to-English translation skills. In just a few short months, J. Edgar was forever re-christened “Hugeass” and his daily life plunged into a maelstrom of misery and torment.
Bereft of confidence in the face of his ridiculous moniker, J. Edgar has never known the love of a good woman, preferring to spend much of his time sequestered away in laboratories full of chocolate. As a result he’s developed a few eccentricities, the worst of which is the tendency for his sexual frustration to spill over into his work.
Hershey’s management have considered letting J. Edgar go. They’ve considered quietly rejecting all his suggestions for candy names. But he cuts such an odd figure that he evokes a real sense of pity in all who know him.
“The guy’s named Hugeass for God’s sake. How much harm can the odd strange candy name do?” they say to one another.
This, at least, is the only way I can plausibly explain the American names of my two favourite childhood chocolate products, known to me in those more innocent days as “Malteasers” and “Bounty”.
Not for the American market such benign and innocent names, oh no. Thanks to the sorry history of J. Edgar Grosderriere I must instead seek out the pleasures of “Whoppers” and “Mounds”.
Yes, “Whoppers” and “Mounds”. It is hard for me to eat these things with a straight face. Furthermore, I have discovered, it is hard to eat without a straight face – your teeth end up in weird places. Be that as it may, I have little choice if I wish to savour chocolate-coated malted biscuit or candied coconut. Because every single time as I’m opening the packaging, the product name emblazoned on the side, my head fills with bad 70s porn dialogue and “bowchikkabowbow” guitar lines.
“Oh wow. I can’t get enough of those Mounds. Now, honey, get ready to wrap your mouth around a Whopper…”