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Brands stick to memory like adhesive strips
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Forsyth County News

Companies pay marketing firms millions each year to make sure their products are on our radar as we cruise down store aisles loading up our carts.

So many products we use take on a generic name, many of which we cannot imagine calling by their actual one.

For example, when was the last time your child had a boo-boo and came asking for you to place an "adhesive strip" on the cut? Most of us grew up with Band-Aids, and that is still what we call them, no matter what brand we purchase.

Band-Aid did try adding "Brand" to its name to prevent its product from becoming a household generic term, but that didn’t really work out.

How many products can you think of that enjoy the same status as Band-Aid?

I still call tissues Kleenex. All tape is Scotch Tape to me, and all glue is Elmer’s. Window cleaners are pretty much all Windex. Certainly, all petroleum jelly products are Vaseline.

When I make copies, I make Xerox copies — regardless of where I make them or what machine is used. When putting away leftovers, mine go into Tupperware containers, although I don’t believe I have ever purchased "real" Tupperware.

My husband’s grandmother always referred to the sofa as "the Davenport." When he was a little boy he thought that was what all sofas were called.

Likewise, when I was growing up, I thought the actual name for a vacuum cleaner was "the Hoover."

We also grew up drinking Kool Aid, and I still call all powdered drink mixes by that name, although our children think all powdered drinks are called Crystal Light.

I have never used "lip balm" on my lips; it is Chapstick.

Growing up, we always wore Levi’s, regardless of what the tag said. Nobody had an RV, instead, retirees roamed the country in their Winnebagos.

Southerners, no doubt, give thought to the world of soft drinks.

Growing up primarily in the South, I can tell you nobody said the "P" word. (That’s Pepsi for my non-Southern friends.)

It really didn’t matter whether you were drinking a Sprite, Dr. Pepper or Coca-Cola. If someone asked if you wanted a Coke, it meant a sugary carbonated beverage.

When Pepsi did make it past the Mason-Dixon Line, we never thought it was nearly as tasty as Coke. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who thought so.

While Pepsi is now one of the largest corporations in the world, Coca-Cola still outsells it, not that any of us Southerners are surprised by that.

As with most things, it turns out there is a name for this sort of "branding." Products and services that have become synonymous with what they represent are called "generic trademarks," or "proprietary eponyms."

Whatever it is called, kudos to the marketing experts for making these products household names that transfer to other products for probably decades to come.

All of this reminiscing is giving me a headache, so if you will excuse me, I’m going to go take an Excedrin and relax in my La-Z-Boy.


Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home."