So it seems Dunkin’ Donuts is thinking about changing its name. As a trial, one of their stores in Pasadena, California, might soon drop the ‘Donuts’ part and just be known as Dunkin’ (apostrophe included). The official explanation is something along the line of Dunkin’ Donuts wants to be seen as a “beverage-led brand and coffee leader,” or so I recently read.
I’m thinking perhaps they’re trying to downplay the fact they sell a product that tends to clog arteries. Deep-fried globs of flour covered with sugary icing are definitely taste treats, but hardly good for you. That didn’t make much difference to those of us who grew up in a sugar coma with breakfast cereals such as Sugar Smacks, Sugar Pops, and Sugar Crisp; Coca-Cola or Pepsi for a snack; and popsicles for dessert. It seems today’s more dining-discerning millennials are more drawn to the coffee than the cakes stuffed with cream and crumpets coated in caramel.
If trying to at least appear more health-conscious is a goal, one other thing Dunkin’ Donuts might want to consider is disassociating itself with Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream. Around these parts, anyway, the two often share the same retail counter space. I’ve long referred to this tandem treat in jest as “the health food store,” but they probably wouldn’t use that as a tagline, now or in the future for the two entities. The only thing healthy about that combination is the bottom line for cardiologists.
If Dunkin’ does become the new name, you have to wonder if other companies will follow suit. McDonald’s already has a head start with Mickey D’s. Starbucks could become Bucks, since they like to think of themselves as hip, with it, and transparent, and big bucks are what they make on every cup of latte sold. Might as well tell it like it is.
Apple could become App, since you pretty much download everything needed on any of their devices. Nike may change to just Swoosh and have some customers avoid the embarrassment of not pronouncing the final long “e” in the name. (Granted these are mostly older patrons, but still . . . you don’t want to make anyone feel bad.)
Maybe the now-defunct Sports Authority would still be around if they’d stuck with simply Sports. Forget the authority part. Everybody thinks they know everything anyhow, so why rub their ignorance in their faces?
This isn’t the first time corporations have changed names. Sears long ago jettisoned ‘and Roebuck’. Kmart used to be the S.S. Kresge Company. According to my crack research staff, AOL was originally Quantum Computer Services, then America Online before initializing. IBM went through the same transformation, merging three companies to become the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, then International Business Machines, and finally settling on just the three letters.
Google was created under the name BackRub. Best Buy was Sound of Music. For the first 14 years of its existence, Sony was known as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (which hardly trips off the Western tongue easily in commercials). And the Hertz Corporation was originally billed as DriveUrSelf.
PayPal was once Confinity. Nintendo started life as Marafuku Company before becoming the Nintendo Playing Card Company, then finally going with just the singular signature. Even Playboy wasn’t immune. Hugh Hefner apparently wanted to call his magazine (and eventual empire) Stag Party, but a similarly-named entity in the 1950s dissuaded him from doing so.
One of my favorite examples is Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web. You probably know it better as Yahoo. But did you know it stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle?” Kind of hard to put that to a musical sting.
Corporate entities changing names might well give way to politicians doing the same thing. Perhaps in the 2020 election, Trump will run simply as The Donald. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is already being called Mad Max by her detractors. Arnold Schwarzeneggar was known as The Governator. Margaret Thatcher was The Iron Lady. Dwight Eisenhower was simply, Ike. Richard Nixon didn’t particularly care for Tricky Dick, for some reason, but it stuck. Ronald Reagan was The Gipper. George W. Bush was (and still is) Dubya. Bill Clinton has two: Slick Willie and Bubba. And Truman was Give ’Em Hell, Harry.
If Republicans and Democrats still can’t agree on what day it is next year, let alone healthcare, tax reform, and border patrol, come election time many might want a different name to run under so as to avoid the wrath of the electorate. Where, oh where, is Honest Abe when you really need him?
©MMXVII. William J. Lewis, III