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Dec 29, 2006 10:19 PM

Unfortunate foreign food names or brands

I remember trying Calpis drink from a Japanese vending machine, and saying to myself, "this will never translate well in America". You can also get "Hot Calpis".

Do you know any non-English food names that sound awful in English, or vice versa?

I was a linguist once. Very interested in this subject in this global age.

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  1. In Poland, for a brief time they sold a drink called Fart.

    Roughly translated to English, it means "luck".

    When I was back there this summer I looked for it, but no such fart.

    8 Replies
      1. re: spades

        hilarious...can't stop giggling.

        1. re: spades

          I have some Polish Fart! It's awesome. :p

          1. re: spades

            Aberdeen Nips
            Beef Cecils
            Black Pudding
            Bubble and Squeak
            Cullen Skink
            Dean's Cream
            Fitless Cock
            Girdle Sponges
            Hob Nobs
            Hunter's Buns
            Love in Disguise
            Inky Pinky
            Knickerbocker Glory
            Priddy Oggies
            Singing Hinnies
            Spotted Dick
            Wet Nelly

            1. re: I_Heart_Penguins

              I used to work on a support team that always tried to cajole the UK consultants to bring us Hob-Nobs when they came through the main office. The name may be un fortunate but, heavens they're tastey.

                1. re: I_Heart_Penguins

                  I think the English kinda prefer food names that are naughty. Spotted Pudding, is called "Spotted Dick" for the very same reason Mr. Barsted's Machinist File is called by another name.

                  The Hienz Spotted Dick in a can is simply dreadful. It tastes like Twinkie with currants, and no cream filling. Spotted Dick is simply a Suet based pie crust, with some currants, odd bits of dried fruit and boiled or steamed. Like anything made with Beef Suet, is absolutely brilliant. In Scotland practically the same thing is called "Clootey Dumpling" , named after the clout or cloth it is wrapped in.

                2. When I was a 16 year old going to Hungary as an exchange student, I remember trying to explain the concept of Oreo cookies to my 12-year-old host sister, who had only a rudimentary command of spoken English. I must have used the word "cookie" about a dozen times, and she kept giggling. I though she was just nervous.

                  It turns out that "kuki" in Hungarian - pronounced the same as "cookie" - is slang for penis.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: cookiemonster81

                    ...thus making your CH nickname quite intimidating.

                        1. re: mojoman

                          It is still funny almost three years later!

                      1. re: cookiemonster81

                        I've heard a similar story involving a Korean exchange student in Poland at a house with a kindly grandfather. It has nothing to do with food, so I won't mention the word. Well, let's just say he could never address him.

                        1. re: cookiemonster81

                          When I taught English in Japan, the topic of peanut butter would always eventually come up. To start, it's an odd food concept for Japanese (actually, most of the world, I guess), but it's also a tough lesson in pronunciation, as my students usually came out with "penis butter."

                          1. re: RicRios

                            They have Fart on there! Good stuff.

                            1. re: RicRios

                              Most of these seem intentional. I think the best ones have to be unintentional, and those are what I look for.

                              1. re: grocerytrekker

                                I think these are quite real, and the English is wholly unintentional.

                              2. There have been some controversial candy names and packages in Finland. The names have been recently changed, but they were in existence for tens of years.


                                Of course, they were sold in the K supermarket chain:


                                The number of K's in the store's designation indicates it's size, with 1 K being a convenience store and 4 K being a large supermarket. There are a fair number of KKK stores in existence.

                                Also, in Finland "pussi" means "bag", so it's common to see big bags of chips for sale with the designation of "megapussi" - huge bag.


                                Finally, some funny food name pics (fart drink is even included):


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: podz

                                  I am so glad that someone else saw the humor in the Finnish grocery stores, I was there for business a few years ago and sniggered my way through the store, I was sure they had me on camera and were going to get the butterfly net!

                                2. But hey!, let's face it, food manufacturers are a lot more cultured types, linguistically speaking, than car manufacturers. I'm still laughing about the Mitsubishi PAJERO...

                                  "Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors has a sport utility named Mitsubishi Pajero. The original intention was to call the car after a South American wildcat, but the company's failure to check other uses of the word caused many chuckles. In the Americas and in Spain, the vehicle was rebadged as the Montero. (It has since been replaced in North America by the Mitsubishi Endeavor.)"


                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: RicRios

                                    Can't find "pajero" on the wikipedia entry. A clue, perhaps?

                                    1. re: sundevilpeg

                                      Apparently, "hacerse una paja" is "to do oneself a straw/pipe"
                                      Hence, "wanker"

                                      1. re: sundevilpeg

                                        In the wikipedia link above:

                                        Paja directly translates to English as "straw", used in farms for cattle and other animals to lie on. In South America and Panama hacerse la paja (correrse la paja, in Chile and Peru) means to masturbate. In most parts of Central America to masturbate is to pajearse. In South America and Spain is more often used as hacerse una paja. Pajero, or Pajillero in Spain, is a masturbator (wanker) and also can imply a weakling or a fool, due to cultural beliefs that masturbation created mental weakness. In certain countries, such as Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, Pajero (fem. Pajera) can also mean lazy person, and in Guatemala it means liar, "Vos sos bien pajero = you're such a liar". In Venezuela and El Salvador, hablar paja can mean either to talk nonsense "tĂș solo hablas paja = you're just talking nonsense" or small talk "estuve hablando paja con un amigo = I was talking small talk with a friend".

                                        1. re: RicRios

                                          Heh heh heh. Thanks, fellas! That is indeed world-class dumb! :o)

                                      2. re: RicRios

                                        OK, a 3 year old post, but...
                                        In the '70s, Chevrolet took awhile to figure out why their Nova car sales "didn't move" very much in latin America...

                                        1. re: porker

                                          You got me on that one.
                                          And the reason is?

                                          1. re: RicRios

                                            No va en espagnol - "it doesn't go"

                                          2. re: porker

                                            More recently, the Honda 'Fitta' was changed to Fit; the former name is the Swedish version of the, uh, 'C' word.

                                            1. re: Tom O

                                              HA! I can picture Swedish yuppies just dying to get into THAT car.

                                              1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                But I'll still tell that story whenever I can {:/)

                                                1. re: porker

                                                  And the Rolls Royce Silver Mist in Germany?

                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                    I plead ignorance...can you explain that one? Tnx.

                                                    1. re: porker

                                                      "Mist" is a German explitive, it think it one of the many words for the "s" word

                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                        Ahhhh, thats why I seldom see German tourists on Niagara Fall's
                                                        "Maid of the Mist"!
                                                        - Thanks.