There’s an urban legend that Sav-On Drug Stores (now CVS) changed their name to Osco, then just as quickly changed it back to Sav-On when they realized that asco in Spanish (pronounced oskoh) means disgusting, nauseous and filthy. Snopes and Wikipedia claim that the rumor wasn’t true, but it’s a good place to start my:
Top 10 List of Stores With Really Stupid Names
1. Smart & Final: I agree it was smart to shop there before they started raising their prices a couple of years ago, but what do they mean by final? If that ten-pound bag of spuds turns out to by moldy before I get it home will they refuse to exchange it? What if I find rat turds in my Cocoa Pebbles or a booger in my relish? They’re really going to tell me to get a lawyer rather than refund my three bucks?
2. Quiznos: I can understand why Subway came up with its name since it sells subway AKA submarine sandwiches. Quiznos also sells submarine sandwiches but their name sounds like a failed SAT test. It’s not even Quizknows or Quizyes, which might be slightly more favorable, but it still has nothing to do with sandwiches. Maybe the quiz is trying to figure out how many fewer carbs you’ll have to burn by ordering their flat bread.
3. Ralphs: Supermarkets are often named after their founders and called by either their first name (Jon’s), last name (Vons, Albertsons, Smiths) or even both names (Fred Meyer). It seems logical that Ralphs was founded by someone named Ralph, but he really should have called his store by another name. Ralph is a slang term for throw up, or vomit, as in: I wandered around Ralph’s meat aisle and it made me want to ralph. Unless you’re bulimic, it’s really not the best name when shopping for food.
4. Starbucks: It’s now a household name, synonymous with coffee the way Kleenex is with bathroom tissue. They’re more ubiquitous than public restrooms, and in fact, Starbucks probably have the only public restrooms that people are actually welcome to use. The name breaks down to star and bucks, which is no surprise since every supermarket tabloid features a celebrity popping in there for a half cap or Frappuccino and paying about ten times more than if they had made it at home. By in there, I assume you know I mean Starbucks, and not the Starbucks restroom. There’s a whole different aisle of magazines for those celebrity photos.
5. Kmart: Mart is a place where people come together to buy and sell goods, but what’s going on with the K? Is it short for OK? If so, do you really want to shop at a store that is just ok? If they wanted to keep it short, I could see AAA Mart, but that might be mistaken for either AAA insurance, or one A more drunk than Alcoholics Anonymous. The founder’s name probably started with the letter K, just as the founder of Walmart’s name probably starts with Walking Away From American Manufacturing Jobs.
6. Robinsons-May: When I heard that May Company was merging with Robinson’s, it seemed like the obvious choice for the new name would be May Robinson. There might have even been some real May Robinsons out there who could have participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony. But instead, it became a backwards mouthful, like some formal roll call as in: Flynn, Cathy. It would be like Wienerschnitzel merging with Carl’s Jr. and calling itself Wienerschnitzel Carl instead of Carl Wienerschnitzel. The backwards name was short lived, and now replaced by Macy’s, which can be used as a first (Macy Gray) or last name (William H. Macy). A coincidence? I don’t think so.
7. Jack in the Box: What the flock does this antiquated toy have to do with fast food? You crank a handle on a small box while an annoying tune plays for about ten seconds, then out pops a wiggly clown. It gives small children nightmares and elderly adults a heart attack. Do the great minds at Jack in the Box Corporate realize that jack is another word for nothing? Do you really want to get stuck in that long drive thru line just to get jack (nothing) in your box? Don’t even get me started on the urban slang term for box.
8. Big Lots: This store, which is one step up from a swap meet, used to be called Pic ‘N’ Save (another ridiculous store name). The establishments are not big. If they were, they would be called Costco. I assume that they use the word lot as in a portion of something rather than lots as in a heap of stuff. Even with a valid entomological explanation, Big Lots still sounds like loads of large as translated by one of those scam emailers whose first language is definitely not English.
9. Forever 21: How many of you really want to be stuck on 21 for the rest of your lives? You’re finally able to get legally s#$tfaced and lose your paycheck on the roulette wheel. Are these your truly memorable moments? Frankly, whenever I go into Forever 21, the only customers I see are the tweens and their moms, and they’ve already been around that 21-year old block twice. It’s a little sad when you see those mothers getting a thing or two for themselves as well, wondering if they should instead use the money for that second face lift, another botox session, or to have a couple of ribs removed.
10. McDonald’s: As the most famous franchise until that expensive celebrity coffee took the world by storm, everyone knows your food is from the land of the Golden Arches as long as you tack Mc on the front (McNuggets, McMuffin, McRib, McFlurry). Yet it doesn’t seem to have much in common with the other famous McDonald, as in ee-i-ee-i-oh! – particularly since their fast food hardens the arteries so quickly there’s no way the farmer would ever reach old age by eating it. I know some of you will try to point out that the elderly agriculturalist spells his name MacDonald, but it all sounds the same if you’re singing it. When your kids are eagerly chanting “and a moo moo here” or a “cluck cluck there,” you can tell them that their Happy Meal gives them two treats for their mouth – an entertaining song, as well as a cheap, tasty and terribly unhealthy meal. Fortunately, there’s very little actual meat in McDonald’s food, so it’s almost like your tyke is eating vegetarian.
These are my top 10. Can you suggest any others? Or was my list so crass that you need to race for the nearest Osco because you’re feeling a little asco?
16 responses to “Top 10 List of Stores With Really Stupid Names”
The South has a few… Piggly Wiggly, Harris Teeter, and Stuckeys.
I wish Los Angeles had Piggly Wigglys just for the silly name.
cathy too funny. i want you to add one more target’.. you know the petit french boutique…you are an amazing writer
Thanks, Laura. I almost included Target just for the hit man appeal.
Good piece again, Cath. We have come up with our own names for many of these places. Some of our favorites:
Jack in the Box =Joaquin en la Caja
Smart and Final=Dumb and Tentative
Panda Express= PostPrandial Distress
The Dept stores saying: Pennys Can, Robinsons-May, Nordstrom’s Will.
BB&B=Bed Bath and Behind
Lots of fun
These are hysterical, Jeremy! You’ve got to start your own blog.
Oh, and for some reason, we all call Trader Joe’s
Or the politically correct female version: Haggle Josephine’s.
My husband and I have discussed/ questioned the name Smart and Final many times. We’ve also wondered about Cost Plus. We’re traveling right now, and your right Starbucks has replaced gas stations for restroom stops (so much cleaner and seat covers!). I enjoyed your post – oddly enough I am now craving fast food.
I think Cost Plus means they sell at cost plus just a tiny bit to make a profit. But that’s just speculation. Too bad Starbucks doesn’t sell fast food. Now that they’re adding beer to the menu, they’ll need to start selling chips & salsa or bar food.
You reminded me about Chevy’s failed car, the Nova. They had no idea why it wasn’t selling in Mexico and the Southwest, until someone pointed out that “no va” in Spanish means “won’t go, ” as in: Mi Nova no va nada (My Nova wont go at all.)
And, what’s so safe about shopping at Safeway?
I mentioned Nova in the first draft of my blog, but it was getting too long.
You’re right about Safeway. I want fresh food at a decent price, but I figure that it’s just understood that I won’t be walking though a pit of glass to get there.
What about Rite Aid. Is there a wrong aid or left aid? There is also the politicaly incorrect restaurant called Sambos. I don’t think they are around anymore. Bevmo is another one. I am guessing it stands for “beverage more” which is wrong for two reasons. It is not gramatically correct and do we really need to have names of store written in a psuedo text manner?
Bevmo should call itself Liquor R Us.
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Osco and Sav-on still exist although hyphenated with various supermarket store names operated by Alberston’s family of stores.