A nose by any other name...;Opinion

9th July 1999 at 01:00
My wife and I now have cards for one of those discount shopping warehouses. I won't give its proper name, though you may be able to work it out from my four-year-old son Andrew's version of it: Tossco. Once a month or so the faithful Favorit gets loaded up with bulk pasta, diet lemonade and toilet rolls. We now have enough of the last-mentioned item to see us well into the next century.

We will not have to resort to cut-up newspapers if the millennium bug closes all shops (though given the anti-teacher nonsense some of our dailies print, I could still be tempted. . .).

On our last foray, we brought back in the Skoda, as a treat for the kids, a consignment of cereal variety packs. "There's Choco Crispies," said Andrew. "You can vote on whether you want them to be called Coco Pops again."

Over the past few months, I have become rather perturbed by the influence of advertising on my children. It started when, on hearing that a friend was suffering from vision problems, my youngest suggested that she washed her hair with a shampoo plugged on the box as being "kind to your eyes".

An accidental brush with Saturday morning children's television revealed that he had picked up the gist of the Kelloggs' campaign. Young viewers were given a telephone number to dial to take part in a ballot as to whether the old Coco Pops name should be resurrected to replace the newer Choco Crispies handle. A week or so later, it was announced that the traditionalists had triumphed. I found myself strangely pleased.

I think it is the Snickers effect. There used to be a very satisfying chocolate sweet with a fistful of peanuts in every bar. It was called a Marathon, and asking for one at the ice cream van presented no difficulties. Then, in the interests of multinational corporate homogeneity, or something like that, Marathons became Snickers.

For months I held out, resolutely asking for a Marathon. Eventually, I began to concede. "I'll have a Marathon, or whatever they are called these days." Now I've had to accept that I must request a Snickers. It's still a bloody silly name. So there.

What was wrong with Opal Fruits? What cataclysm occurred at the chewy sweetie factory to provoke the Windscale-to-Sellafield-like name change to Starburst?

Let's call things what they used to be called. Let's return to old, familiar names, names that meant something to generations. Let's call Intermediate 2 physics "Crash O-Grade physics".

Gregor Steele commends Skoda for not changing its name even after the cars stopped being funny.

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