childhood

Thought I was a Cornflakes Girl and that is OK

<blockquote>Thought I was a Cornflakes Girl and that is OK

I get a wickedly rapid twitch when I hear people misuse or distort common words and phrases such as “irregardless” or “work/life” balance. Of course, I have my own word distortions.

Growing up cereal was a luxury. I had a fondness for Captain Crunch but it was too costly (and unhealthy) for my poor family. As such we ended up with Kix cereal and Cornflakes. I would then go on to sneak heaped sugar spoonfuls into the bowls. When I went away to boarding school the school dining building had a smorgasbord of cereals. It was a cereal paradise for this poor girl from the South Bronx. Even with all the available cereal, I still referred to all cereal as “cornflakes” and didn’t understand until way later in life that not all cereals were called cornflakes. For me it was a catch-all phrase. It is akin to when toddlers refer to all animals as dogs. It is a common cognitive abstraction.

I tended to do the same with soda referring to all sodas as Coca Cola. I didn’t realize that was an actual brand name until way later. It is amazing how certain brands have become so integral to our overall day to day experience. For example, we may say “I need to xerox that document.” Well, xerox is actually a brand name that now has just come to be a catch-all phrase for photocopy. How many times have you said “pass me the q-tip” versus “pass me the cotton swab”? When you are in a hotel, chances are you might very well refer to the hot tub as the jacuzzi – which is actually a brand name.

I have already taught my son to use chapstick when his lips are dry. Of course, that is a name brand and correct term would be lip balm. He also knows to use kleenex to wipe his always-runny six year old nose. Tissue? Eh.. And as that mighty jingle notes “I am stuck on Band-Aid cause Band-Aid is stuck on me.” Yup. The generic phrase would be adhesive bandage. Don’t you have certain words that have become a catch all?

When my sister got her first MP-3 player she kept calling it an Ipod. I got frustrated and chastised her that what she had was not an Ipod. Silly me. I have since learned better. Let people use these brand terms whatever way they want. For me all soda is still coke. However, now that I have a decent standard of living, I can not only eat my Captain Crunch with gusto, but I also eat it at all times of the day. I carry it in with me to business meetings and sleep with a box next to my hotel beds.

And, I will call it whatever I want.

26 replies »

  1. it is almost as if the brand is the only thing that can define the stuff…… weird isn’t it when we see a new brand offering to do the same thing and we suddenly realize it is not synonymous with the ‘stuff’… 😛

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  2. in our house we always ‘hoovered’ the carpet, however the Vacuum Cleaner we used may not have been an actual Hoover. Brands walk into our consciousness, and our reality is re-branded. Christmas – Santa Claus – Red Suit – Coca Cola ? mmm, I’ll take a Sprite …,

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  3. When we moved to Pennsylvania from the Midwest, I had to learn that what I had always called “pop” got me nothing but a bewildered stare. Here, it’s “soda.” Where I grew up, a soda was a fountain, or an ice cream treat including pop, usually root beer 🙂

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      • In the South, you’ll be asked by the waitress what kind of coke you want. All soda–pop–is coke, including Pepsi, Orange Nesbitt, etc. I’m fascinated, too by the differences. If I speak with a new acquaintance long enough, I can usually make a pretty good guess about where that person grew up 🙂

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  4. Right you are about Q-Tips and Kleenex. I buy Puffs even though my shopping list says, “kleenex,” lol. I also say, Vick’s Vapo-Rub, when in fact I buy generic, same with Pam cooking spray.
    An interesting side note in the other direction, as a teen my mom always told me to buy Kotex. It took me years to figure out she was referring to pads as I called them mainly because I bought a different brand, same with Tampax, I didn’t notice the names of these things, just the need for them. Perhaps I was so shy buying them, I went in grabbed whatever and left. LOL Thank goodness I grew out of that!

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  5. I think those words, like Xerox, are called eponyms. I have a friend who calls all sodas “Coke.” LOL! I with you when it comes to sweetened cereal–my mom wouldn’t buy it! I ate my weight in Fruit Loops my first year of college! 🙂 Have a nice weekend!

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  6. The only brand I’m a snob about is ketchup. It just has to be Heinz. Could I heinz by my burger and fries? I now know you have a definite emotional attachment to Captain Crunch but if you ever read the box, as I did with ALL cereal boxes when I was growing up, you’d know it’s Cap’n Crunch. At least I think it is but am not totally sure since it was never one of my favorites.

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