They’re brand names we see in our everyday lives but how often do we stop and think about where they actually come from? In fact, a little research into the background of some of America’s most famous product names throws up truly unexpected facts. Read on to find out about a few of the most unexpected brand name origins and meanings.
4. A&W Restaurants
Hamburgers washed down with a root beer served in a frosted tankard; what could be more American? That may well explain why A&W Restaurants have been a much-loved U.S. dining staple since its origins in 1919. The initial business was a roadside stall run by Roy W. Allen and Frank Wright. Four years later the first proper restaurant opened in Sacramento, California and Allen and Wright became A&W.
3. O·P·I Products
If you’ve ever painted your nails, there’s a good chance you’ve used one of the offerings marketed by O·P·I Products, which is available in more than 100 countries. Weirdly enough, the company originally started out as a manufacturer of dental supplies with name Odontorium Products Inc. But as a stylish nail polish maker, O·P·I fits their modern commercial profile much more snugly.
The company started out in 1899 with the name S. S. Kresge Corporation. Sebastian Spering Kresge was the company founder, having opened a single store in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1897. Later, he donated the initial “K” from his surname to the brand. Surprisingly, it was 1962 before the first store opened under the Kmart name, and 1977 before the company officially took the title Kmart Corporation.
How many Americans can say they’ve never popped one of these tasty little candy covered chocolate treats into their mouths? In fact, it seems that Forrest E. Mars Senior copied the idea for M&Ms from a British company. The latter outfit made something extremely similar called Smarties, which are still very much on the market today. Mars and his business partner Bruce Murrie are the two “M”s that gave us M&Ms in 1941. At first, only soldiers fighting in WWII got them, and they were later made available to a wider public.