What’s in a Name?
A question came up the other day about Tim Hortons, and it wasn’t about the coffee or donuts, it was about the name of the coffee chain. Do you think kids today know there was actually a person behind the name?
An older generation knows Tim Horton as an NHL player back in the days of the 6-team league, a time when hockey players weren’t signing multi-million dollar contracts, and some had to have a side gig to pay the bills. Tim Horton’s first store sold hamburgers, and then in 1964 he opened a little coffee and donut shop in Hamilton Ontario, it was called “Tim Horton.” He sold coffee for a quarter, and his own donut creations were so successful that it turned into the Canadian chain that we know today. There are over 3500 Tim Hortons franchises across Canada, almost 1,000 in the U.S., and 38 in the Persian Gulf! Tim Horton died in a single-car crash in 1974. There you go kids, now you know.
Oh and have you ever wondered why Tim Hortons doesn’t have an apostrophe, like Wendy’s and McDonald’s? Well, as the story goes it did have an apostrophe at one time, but the company removed it after the signs were interpreted to be breaking the Province of Quebec sign laws in 1993. The removal of the apostrophe allowed the company to have one common sign image across Canada.
Tim Hortons brought to mind the names of other businesses that are named after people. It’s been well documented that there was a person behind the name of the hamburger chain, Wendy’s. Although Wendy is just her nickname, Wendy was actually born Melinda Lou Thomas, but according to an account in the New York Times, her siblings had difficulty pronouncing her name and called her “Wenda,” which then became, Wendy. In 1969, her father Dave Thomas opened his fast-food restaurant and named it after her. There are now 7,000 Wendy’s restaurants around the world.
And of course, there’s McDonald's, named after that famous guy with the big shoes, Ronald McDonald! Wait, what, he’s not a real person? No, the first McDonald’s drive-in was opened in 1940 by brothers Maurice (Mac) and Richard McDonald in San Bernardino California.
Some companies named after the founders are pretty obvious. The huge pharmaceutical corporation, Johnson and Johnson, for instance, seems pretty straightforward, but the founders are Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson, and Edward Mead Johnson! So, shouldn’t the name be, Johnson, Johnson and Johnson? Which Johnson got left out?
There are some companies that were named after their founder but didn’t use the full given name. Take for instance Maksymilian Faktorowicz. It was a wise marketing decision to change his name when it came to selling his cosmetic line. Yes, the company is called Max Factor.
Loblaws, named after Theodore Loblaw.
There is a Harley and a Davidson over at the motorcycle giant. William S. Harley & Arthur Davidson were the founders.
The big advantage to naming a company after its founder is, that you don’t have to come up with a fancy name for your organization, like, well let’s say, Blue Frog Studios.
Some companies have had the creative department work overtime for them when it came to creating a name.
Take for instance the Mexican-style food company called, “Juan in a Million.”
And there’s a British floor and wall tiling service, “Bonnie Tiler” Not to be confused with the singer of almost the same name.
I don’t know if the people behind the name of a concrete pump and cement truck company ever saw the movie Wayne’s World, but they named their company “Schwing!”
I would have loved to have been in on the, let’s-come-up-with-a-name meeting for the "Passmore Gas and Propane Company”
If you’re in London and you’re thirsty there are 8 venues of “Tequila Mockingbird” to choose from, and if you need a haircut there’s “Barber Streisand.”
And we can’t leave out the Boss of all house cleaning companies, “Spruce Springclean.”
But let’s get back to Blue Frog Studios. Owners, Kelly and Juanita get asked all the time where the name of the Studio came from. The studio used to be called Rock Beach, but when Kelly and Juanita purchased the studio they thought it would be a good idea to start fresh with a new name. They had lots of help from the kids in the family, and one word that kept coming up was Blue, as in the style of music, “The Blues.” A number of animal names were tossed around to go with the word Blue, but none seemed to fit. Then one day they received a call from David Hayes who said he had a studio-warming present for them. It was a large decorative metallic Blue Frog! Bingo, that was it! Blue Frog Studios. You can see the Blue Frog next time you attend a concert. It hangs on the wall in the lobby and is often used as a backdrop for group photos and selfies.
"What's in a name? As Shakespeare once wrote, “That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet."
Till next week...
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1328 Johnston Road
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2