Just Call it What it Is

Okay, take this short quiz. What are corn flakes? Do you think they might be flakes made of corn? What is raisin bran? Raisins and bran maybe? And what about shredded wheat? You might make a wild guess that a cereal with that name is most likely, well, shredded wheat. Pretty easy test, right? All of these cereal products are named for what they are made of. You buy a box of Frosted Flakes of Corn and you know exactly what you’re going to get. Oatmeal is self-explanatory. So tell me this: what the hell is Grape-Nuts?

I love Grape-Nuts. I’ve been eating it for years, but I don’t get the name. The stuff is made from wheat and barley. No grapes. No nuts. Now I could surmise that the “nuts” part of the name is because the cereal is so crunchy, like nuts. Okay fine. But how to explain the “grape” part? Why didn’t they just call it Grain-Nuts? It’s made from grain and it tastes nutty. That would make sense. I need things that make sense in my life. Too much in this world is confusing as it is.

As you can tell I’m a big believer in calling things by their truthful names. Obfuscating terms such as administrative professional (secretary) and physically challenged (handicapped) achieve nothing expect to irritate me and complicate what should be a simple descriptive word for something or someone. If someone is blind there’re blind, not vision impaired. When I misplace my glasses and I can’t make out the words in the newspaper, I’m vision impaired. If a person cannot see, he is blind. It’s simple truth in advertising. And it makes it much easier to deal with something when you call it by its real name.

Words have meaning. And brand names have meaning too. I don’t like when a big company buys up another company but keeps the original name without the parent company’s name attached. In my opinion, this is an attempt to deceive the public. I want to know who the owner is. If Hustler Magazine owns Good Housekeeping I want to know that.

Right now both the Hertz and Avis rental car companies are in a bidding war to acquire Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. If Hertz gets it, they say that they plan to keep the Dollar Thrifty brand. They call it “having a multi-brand strategy in the leisure segment.” I call it deceitful since most people looking to rent a car won’t realize that Hertz will own and operate the Dollar Thrifty outfits as well.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m comparing prices for a rental car, I’d like to know if I’m actually obtaining quotes from the same company under different names. That would be like getting price quotes from three different painters who all work for the same painting company. Hey, I don’t want much, just a little truth in advertising and full disclosure.

Speaking of full disclosure, you might like to know that Avis and Budget rental cars are one and the same company. And Enterprise Holdings is the company that owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo. So it seems that once the Dollar Thrifty rental car company gets eaten up we’ll basically have only three rental car companies in the country; Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise.

Whatever your opinion might be on business consolidation, competition elimination, and antitrust issues, my point is a simple one – I want to know who owns the companies I do business with. If I’m renting a car tell me who I’m renting from. If I’m buying a Hershey bar who gets my money, Hershey? Or is it Nestle? Or is it Cadbury? And suppose I don’t want to support a particular company, I’d like to know what products they make so I can avoid buying them. I love Mounds bars but I’ll stop buying them if I find out they’re being made by a munitions company in Syria.

I’ve just recently discovered that Double Bubble Gum (“America’s original” as the wrapper states) is made in Canada. Bazooka Bubble Gum is made in Mexico, but I digress. Getting back to the original question, I’d still like to know why Grape-Nuts are called Grape-Nuts. And by the way, just who owns Grape-Nuts these days? It used to be Post Cereals, but who owns Post Cereals? If it’s a company in Syria then I’ll switch to Wheaties.

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