8 Fake Brands Seen in Movies and TV Shows

Miramax
Miramax

From Red Apple Cigarettes to Heisler Beer, Hollywood is full of fictitious "brands" that you've seen pop up in show after show, and movie after movie. Maybe you've never even noticed that they're used across the board, as filmmakers can be pretty sneaky about their placement. Sometimes it's because they truly need a generic brand, while in other cases it's just become a sort of inside joke. How many of these do you recognize?

1. RED APPLE CIGARETTES

There are plenty of directors and writers who create brands and use them across all of their movies and shows, but Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Kahuna Burger (another Quentin Tarantino staple) are some of the most famous.

  • First seen in Pulp Fiction (1994), Red Apple can also be spotted in the Tokyo airport when Uma Thurman walks by an giant advertisement for the brand in Kill Bill.
  • Ted (Tim Roth), the put-upon bellhop, also smokes them in Four Rooms (1995).
  • A pack is tossed in the Gecko brothers' car in From Dusk till Dawn (1996), which Tarantino wrote and Robert Rodriguez directed.
  • The brand makes another appearance in the Rodriguez-directed Planet Terror part of Grindhouse (2007), when the BBQ owner passes a pack to Wray (Freddy Rodríguez).

2. MORLEY CIGARETTES

The Smoking Man from 'The X-Files'
Carin Baer/FOX

Unlike Tarantino's Red Apple cigs, which appear exclusively in his own movies, Morley Cigarettes are prop smokes used across the board. Here are a few places you'll find them:

  • Beverly Hills, 90210: Remember when Brenda comes home from Paris with a newfound smoking habit? The cigarettes her parents catch her with are Morleys.
  • Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was loyal to the Morley brand.
  • On Heroes, Claire Bennet's real mom tries to light a Morley in Sandra Bennet's house—until Sandra puts the kibosh on it.
  • The American soldiers in Platoon smoke Morleys.
  • Christina Ricci's character in Prozac Nation is a Morley smoker.
  • The infamous Smoking Man from The X-Files smokes—you guessed it—Morleys.

3. HEISLER BEER

Heisler Beer is the barley-and-hops version of Morleys. Some notable appearances:

  • In lots of My Name is Earl episodes.
  • When Silas from Weeds celebrates his 18th birthday, the beverage of choice is Heisler.
  • Beerfest by the Broken Lizard guys features both cans and bottles of the fictitious beer.

4. OCEANIC AIRLINES

The cast of 'Lost'
ABC

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Lost is surely familiar with the fictional Oceanic Airlines. But the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 aren't the only passengers to fly the friendly skies with the brand, which has been around since long before Jack and co. crashed on the Island. It's usually specifically used to depict ill-fated airlines, so the next time you spot the name at the beginning of a movie, you'll know something that the person sitting next to you doesn't.

  • Part of the 1996 movie Executive Decision takes place on Oceanic Airlines Flight 343.
  • In "The Bridget at Kang So Ri," an episode of JAG that aired in 2000, terrorists hijack an Oceanic Air flight.
  • Oceanic is referenced in other ABC and/or J.J. Abrams project; the name has made appearances in Chuck, Fringe, and Pushing Daisies.

5. GANNON CAR RENTALS

Speaking of Lost: Gannon Car ads were featured in back-to-back episodes of Heroes and Lost, which led to a lot of speculation among fans that the two shows were somehow connected. This would have been pretty unprecedented, since the shows were on two different networks. Reps for both shows denied that the shows tied together.

  • Gannon pamphlets can be found in at least four episodes of Heroes.
  • Lost fans spotted Gannon advertisements on the back of the Oceanic Airlines boarding pass folders—there are also pamphlets, too, and a Gannon advertisement at a soccer game in an episode with Desmond.

6. FINDER-SPYDER

Finder-Spyder is the official choice when writers need a generic search engine. Sometimes the logo looks suspiciously like Google's, and sometimes it looks nothing like it. Here's where you'll spot it:

  • In at least six episodes of Prison Break, including the pilot.
  • On Dexter.
  • In Two Without a Trace episodes: "Baggage," where they look up a website that was left in a journal, and "Cloudy with a Chance of Gettysburg," where they look up info about Civil War reenactments.
  • On Criminal Minds, when Megan Kane "Finder-Spyders" Special Agent Aaron Hotchner in the episode "Pleasure is my Business."

7. MOOBY'S

Jeff Anderson in 'Clerks II' (2006)
The Weinstein Company

Mooby's, a franchise that features a tongue-in-cheek golden cow mascot, is all over Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse. Fans already know this, no doubt, but for the casual viewer, here's a reference guide:

  • In Dogma, you'll see the chain all over the place: Bartleby and Loki visit the Mooby headquarters, they eat at a Mooby restaurant, Silent Bob wears a Mooby hat throughout the movie, and Rufus can be seen wearing Mooby pajamas.
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Silent Bob is still wearing his Mooby hat. A Mooby character gets shot during the backlot chase scene.
  • Clerks II features the clerks relocating to a Mooby location after their Quick Stop burns down.

8. ACME

Acme is obviously associated with Looney Toons, but other shows and movies have picked up on the gag as well. The name originated because when the Yellow Pages were first introduced, tons of businesses started naming themselves "Acme" or "Ace" to get at the top of the listings. The Looney Toons's Acme and other Acme references poke fun at this (and some are referencing the Looney Toons Acme directly).

  • Calvin and Hobbes often referenced Acme on the box when Calvin was making transmogrifiers and other imaginative machines.
  • The Far Side used the company name in various comics, too.
  • Bullwinkle once pretended to sell Acme vacuums on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
  • The Simpsons makes reference on a somewhat regular basis, including during Itchy and Scratchy episodes.
  • The candy factory Lucy and Ethel work at in that famous episode is the Acme Candy Factory.
  • The detective agency in the Carmen Sandiego series is the ACME Detective Agency.
  • The Last Action Hero references Acme products.
  • Wally's Filling Station in The Andy Griffith Show sells Acme fuel.

New Jersey's Anthony Bourdain Food Trail Has Opened

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Before Anthony Bourdain was a world-famous chef, author, or food and travel documentarian, he was just another kid growing up in New Jersey. Earlier this year, Food & Wine reported that Bourdain's home state would honor the late television personality with a food trail tracing his favorite restaurants. And that trail is now open.

Bourdain was born in New York City in 1956, and spent most of childhood living in Leonia, New Jersey. He often revisited the Garden State in his books and television shows, highlighting the state's classic diners and delis and the seafood shacks of the Jersey shore.

Immediately following Bourdain's tragic death on June 8, 2018, New Jersey assemblyman Paul Moriarty proposed an official food trail featuring some of his favorite eateries. The trail draws from the New Jersey episode from season 5 of the CNN series Parts Unknown. In it, Bourdain traveled to several towns throughout the state, including Camden, Atlantic City, and Asbury Park, and sampled fare like cheesesteaks, salt water taffy, oysters, and deep-fried hot dogs.

The food trail was approved following a unanimous vote in January, and the trail was officially inaugurated last week. Among the stops included on the trail:

  1. Frank's Deli // Asbury Park
  1. Knife and Fork Inn // Atlantic City
  1. Dock's Oyster House // Atlantic City
  1. Tony's Baltimore Grill // Atlantic City
  1. James' Salt Water Taffy // Atlantic City
  1. Lucille's Country Cooking // Barnegat
  1. Tony & Ruth Steaks // Camden
  1. Donkey's Place // Camden
  2. Hiram's Roadstand // Fort Lee

10 Sweet Facts About Napoleon Dynamite

© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

ChapStick, llamas, and tater tots are just a few things that appear in Napoleon Dynamite, a cult film shot for a mere $400,000 that went on to gross $44.5 million. In 2002, Brigham Young University film student Jared Hess filmed a black-and-white short, Peluca, with his classmate Jon Heder. The film got accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival, which gave Hess the courage to adapt it into a feature. Hess used his real-life upbringing in Preston, Idaho—he had six brothers and his mom owned llamas—to form the basis of the movie, about a nerdy teenager named Napoleon (Heder) who encourages his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to run for class president.

In 2004, the indie film screened at Sundance, and was quickly purchased by Fox Searchlight and Paramount, then released less than six months later. Today, the film remains so popular that in 2016 Pedro and Napoleon reunited for a cheesy tots Burger King commercial. To celebrated the film's 15th anniversary, here are some facts about the ever-quotable comedy.

1. Deb is based on Jerusha Hess.

Jared Hess’s wife Jerusha co-wrote the film and based Deb on her own life. “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders,’” Jared told Rolling Stone. “Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves … they’re real big.'"

Tina Majorino, who played the fictional Deb, hadn’t done a comedy before, because people thought of her as a dramatic actress. "The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me," she told Rolling Stone. "Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before."

2. Napoleon's famous dance scene was the result of having extra film stock.

At the end of shooting Peluca, Hess had a minute of film stock left and knew Heder liked to dance. Heder had on moon boots—something Hess used to wear—so they traveled to the end of a dirt road. They turned on the car radio and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was playing. “I just told him to start dancing and realized: This is how we’ve got to end the film,” Hess told Rolling Stone. “You don’t anticipate those kinds of things. They’re just part of the creative process.”

Heder told HuffPost he found inspiration in Michael Jackson and dancing in front of a mirror, for the end-of-the-movie skit. But when it came time to film the dance for the feature, Heder felt "pressure" to deliver. “I was like, ‘Oh, crap!’ This isn’t just a silly little scene,” he told PDX Monthly. “This is the moment where everything comes, and he’s making the sacrifice for his friend. That’s the whole theme of the movie. Everything leads up to this. Napoleon’s been this loser. This has to be the moment where he lands a victory.” Instead of hiring a choreographer, the filmmakers told him to “just figure it out.” They filmed the scene three times with three different songs, including Jamiroquai’s “Little L” and “Canned Heat.”

3. Napoleon Dynamitefans still flock to Preston, Idaho to tour the movie's locations.

In a 2016 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, The Preston Citizen’s circulation manager, Rhonda Gregerson, said “every summer at least 50 groups of fans walk into the office wanting to know more about the film.” She said people come from all over the world to see Preston High School, Pedro’s house, and other filming locations as a layover before heading to Yellowstone National Park. “If you talk to a lot of people in Preston, you’ll find a lot of people who have become a bit sick of it,” Gregerson said. “I still think it’s great that there’s still so much interest in the town this long after the movie.”

Besides the filming locations, the town used to host a Napoleon Dynamite festival. In 2005, the fest drew about 6000 people and featured a tater tot eating contest, a moon boot dancing contest, boondoggle keychains for sale, and a tetherball tournament. The fest was last held in 2008.

4. Idaho adopted a resolution commending the filmmakers.

'Napoleon Dynamite' filmmakers Jerusha and Jared Hess
Jerusha and Jared Hess
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

In 2005, the Idaho legislature wrote a resolution praising Jared and Jerusha Hess and the city of Preston. HCR029 appreciates the use of tater tots for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.” It extols bicycling and skateboarding to promote “better air quality,” and it says Kip and LaFawnduh’s relationship “is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho’s technology-driven industry.” The resolution goes on to say those who “vote Nay on this concurrent resolution are Freakin’ Idiots.” Napoleon would be proud.

5. Napoleon was a different kind of nerd.

Sure, he was awkward, but Napoleon wasn’t as intelligent as other film nerds. “He’s not a genius,” Heder told HuffPost. “Maybe he’s getting good grades, but he’s not excelling; he’s just socially awkward. He doesn’t know how much of an outcast he is, and that’s what gives him that confidence. He’s trying to be cool sometimes, but mostly he just goes for it and does it.”

6. The title sequence featured several different sets of hands..

Eight months before the theatrical release, Fox Searchlight had Hess film a title sequence that made it clear that the film took place in 2004, not in the ’80s or ’90s. Napoleon’s student ID reveals the events occur during the 2004-2005 school year. Heder’s hands move the objects in and out of the frame, but Fox didn’t like his hangnails. “They flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder,” Hess told Art of the Title. “If you look, there are like three different dudes’ hands—our producer’s are in there, too.”

7. Napoleon Dynamite messed up Netflix's algorithms.

Beginning in 2006, Cinematch—Netflix’s recommendation algorithm software—held a contest called The Netflix Prize. Anyone who could make Cinematch’s predictions at least 10 percent more accurate would win $1 million. Computer scientist Len Bertoni had trouble predicting whether people would like Napoleon Dynamite. Bertoni told The New York Times the film is “polarizing,” and the Netflix ratings are either one or five stars. If he could accurately predict whether people liked the movie, Bertoni said, then he’d come much closer to winning the prize. That didn’t happen for him.

The contest finally ended in 2009 when Netflix awarded the grand prize to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, who developed a 10.06 percent improvement over Cinematch’s score.

8. Napoleon accidentally got a bad perm.


© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

Heder got his hair permed the night before shooting began—but something went wrong. Heder called Jared and said, “‘Yeah, I got the perm but it’s a little bit different than it was before,’” Hess told Rolling Stone. “He showed up the night before shooting and he looked like Shirley Temple! The curls were huge!” They didn’t have much time to fix the goof, so Hess enlisted Jerusha and her cousin to re-perm it. It worked, but Jon wasn’t allowed to wash his hair for the next three weeks. “So he had this stinky ‘do in the Idaho heat for three weeks,” Jared said. “We were shooting near dairy farms and there were tons of flies; they were all flying in and out of his hair.”

9. LaFawnduh's real-life family starred in the film.

Shondrella Avery played LaFawnduh, the African American girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon’s older brother (played by Aaron Ruell). Before filming, Hess phoned Avery and said, “‘You remember that there were no black people in Preston, Idaho, right? Do you think your family might want to be in the movie?’ And that’s how it happened,” Avery told Los Angeles Weekly. Her actual family shows up at the end when LaFawnduh and Kip get married.

10. A short-lived animated series acted as a sequel.

In 2012, Fox aired six episodes of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series before they canceled it. All of the original actors returned to supply voices to their characters. The only difference between the film and the series is Kip is not married. Heder told Rolling Stone the episodes are as close to a sequel as fans will get. “If you sit down and watch those back to back, you’ve got yourself a sequel,” he said. “Because you’ve got all the same characters and all the same actors.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

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