Get your Country out of my Happy Meal!: Liberty cabbage, Freedom fries and other Product Renamings

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Political battles can dictate what we call our food and friends, and even what games we play. During WWI, sauerkraut was popularly rebranded Liberty Cabbage. When anti-French sentiments began to build a few years ago, "French Fries" were rechristened "Freedom Fries." (Nevermind that Thomas Jefferson may have been the one to first rave about the delicious side item in the U.S.). And while most patriotic terms fade, places like Berlin, Iowa, and Germantown, Nebraska, have ended up permanently renamed. Here are a few other examples of reactionary vocab rebranding efforts from all over the globe.

1. Food

Picture 15.pngTHE KIWI: The iconic fruit of New Zealand was originally known as a Chinese Gooseberry. When the country exported the fruits to the US starting in the 1950s, marketers referred to them as a melonettes to avoid evoking the Cold War conflict between China and the US. The name was later changed again to Kiwifruit came to avoid tariffs on melons and berries and to honor the country's national bird, the Kiwi.

KIWI LOAVES: In 1998, New Zealand bakers were irritated by threats of French nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean. So they took matters into their own hands by renaming French bread as Kiwi bread. The action received little attention compared to the Freedom fry movement here in the states.

FRENCH VANILLA: Of course, now that the Star Spangled Ice Cream company has renamed its ice cream from "I Hate the French Vanilla" to "Air Force "˜Plane' Vanilla," the recent anti-French sentiments may have left US kitchens, for now.

ROSES OF MUHAMMAD: After the 2006 controversy over Danish cartoons depicting Muslims, the Iranian Confectioner's Union changed the names of Danish pastries to "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad."

2. Drinks

BOURBON: To wash down the sweet taste of independence, Americans began drinking Bourbon—a Whisky first brewed in the US in 1789. Rev. Elijah Craig rebuked the UK origins of the drink, naming it after Bourbon County, Kentucky.

a.mecca.jpgMECCA COLA: In 2002, Muslims asserted their beverage independence too. A Muslim-run company introduced Mecca Cola as an alternative to Coca Cola. The manufacturers imitated the Coca Cola flavor and packaged it with a red label and white script. Arab boycotts of American brands boosted the cola's sales.

3. Games

CARDS TAKE A HIT: In 1917, the city of Syracuse made a statement against WWI by banning a card game. They prohibited Pinochle because of game's German origins (it came from the game "Binokel").

21: American Black Jack has roots in Europe, but went through a few name changes before settling on that name. First, it was a popular French casino game in the 1700s called "Vingt-et-Un" ("Twenty One"). The British liked to play it too, but with the French and Indian War going on, they decided to rename it "Pontoon."

Animals

a.alsatian.jpg4. GERMAN DOGS: Your furry four-footer is man's best friend. But that love might be conditional if the breed's name evokes a particular enemy country. Instead of German Shepherds and Dachsunds, owners in countries around the world doted on their Alsatians and Liberty Pups.

5. Illness

EVEN OUR SICKNESS GETS A NAME CHANGE? During WWI, a Massachusetts doctor decided to combat the German invaders, specifically German Measles. The new "Liberty Measles" had all the same symptoms, plus a little extra patriotism. Newspapers used the new term for decades.

6. Education

HOW KINDERGARTEN ALMOST GOT CHANGED: New Jersey teacher Katherine T. Cassell published an article "Wartime German at Junior High" in the 1945 German Quarterly. She wrote about her students' experience in the classroom and the anti-German frenzy taking place in the public. Her students learned military-related German words that year, and started dropping "ersatz" into conversations.

Students discussed public calls for banning German words, boycotting German music and language studies, and even forbidding "Frankfurters."

In response to the proposal to change the school term "Kindergarten" to something less German, one eighth grader said "that it would be just as sensible to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, just because it was designed by a German." Another student added that they would also have to get rid of Diesel engines and German contributions to science and medicine.

The term "Kindergarten" survived, but are there any other renamings you remember?
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July 14, 2008 - 7:39am
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