Back in the early 1940s, this iconic breakfast cereal was known as CheeriOats, but a trademark dispute with another oat cereal manufacturer prompted a name change in 1945. That paved the way for the Cheerios Kid and his sidekick Sue, stars of the brand's commercials in the '50s and '60s—and revived a few years ago to convey the message to baby boomers that Cheerios can help lower cholesterol.
Back in the 1920s, after watching his wife apply cotton to toothpicks, Leo Gerstenzang developed a pre-made cotton swab for mothers to use in caring for their infants. The original name for the product, Baby Gays, was later changed to one that describes its use: "Q" for quality, "tips" for the cotton attached at either end.
When Frank Epperson applied for a patent on his frozen treat back in 1924, the product was called "the Epsicle ice pop." Legend has it that his children prompted the name change of their pop's "sicle."
Confederate Colonel John Pemberton became addicted to morphine during the Civil War, and his initial formula for what would become Coca-Cola, which included wine and cocaine, was intended to be a substitute for the dangerous opiate. By 1903, both alcohol and cocaine had been removed from the elixir. The name referred to the coca leaves and kola nuts that contributed to the soft drink's flavor. (Pemberton changed the 'K' in "Kola" to a 'C' because it looked better).
In 1937 Hormel coughed up a $100 prize to the brother of one of its executives who'd won a competition to name its new canned meat product. The company won't say what SPAM actually means, but it's widely thought to have some basis in "spiced ham" or "spare meat" or "shoulders of pork and ham." Or it could be an acronym for "Specially Processed American Meat." Whatever the etymology, it was so prevalent during World War II that Uncle Sam acquired the nickname "Uncle Spam."
The original die-cast Matchbox cars and trucks, introduced in 1953, came in containers that were the same size and style as matchboxes. It's as simple as that.
During a trade embargo between the United States and Nazi Germany, Coca-Cola Deutschland factory director Max Keith challenged his team to use their "imagination" ("fantasie" in German) and find a way to sell their product domestically. One German salesman instantly expressed his enthusiasm for the idea: "Fanta!"
And you thought the balloons on the package were just for fun and color. Turns out the best-known bread brand, introduced in 1921, got its name when a Taggart Baking Company merchandising executive attended a balloon race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The colorful sight filled the exec with "wonder." He also happened to be on the team charged with naming the company's new bread.
Founded in 1927, the convenience stores were originally called "Tote'm." Then, in 1946, the chain expanded its hours, staying open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.—and voila, 7-Eleven was born.
PEZ began as a breath mint company in Austria in 1927. The name comes from the German word for peppermint, "pfefferminz." Take the first, middle and last letters of "pfefferminz" and you've got one of the most fun candies ever concocted.
Sometimes things really are as simple as they appear. The stuff is maple-flavored oatmeal, and you want it. End of story.
We hate to be the ones to break this to you, but Betty Crocker is a made-up name, devised to get unsuspecting housewives (the only market for these products back in 1921) to trust the new brand. The name Betty was thought to be cheery and all-American. Crocker honored one William Crocker, a director of the company that launched the brand.
It's a Danish thing (the product has been made by a Denmark company since 1949, after all). "Leg godt" means "play well." In Latin, "lego" means "I bring together," but the company says that's just a coincidence.
Soft-drinks company founder Claud Hatcher had a simple idea: His soda pop was to be sold in glass bottles that were taller than those of his competitors, which would make them a better value. To promote the idea, he resorted to a bit of hyperbole: His bottles were "knee-high." Hence, the name Nehi—and the leggy ad campaign used to sell the beverage.
A pharmacist named Caleb Bradham introduced something called "Brad's Drink" back in 1893. Five years later, he changed the name to Pepsi-Cola, which referred to the digestive enzyme pepsin, part of the original recipe.
The religious beliefs of icons ranging from James Stewart to Tina Turner
Even for those of us who were there, it's hard to believe what things cost in the '60s
Wise guy mothers and fathers are turning their teens’ favorite gadget against them
These dating tips from the 1930s are part infuriating, part hilarious and completely sexist
From a robot receptionist to a motorized cat mews, here are 12 of the last century's most far-fetched ideas
Illustrator Bob Staake injects the literature of our childhood with a shot of humor into the jugular