Friday, 20 November 2009

...And if Lt Colebourn had been posted to Saskatchewan, Piglet's friend would be Reggie the Pooh.

I’ve invented a good work-avoidance game, of researching what something was named after, and then what that was named after, and so on, until you reach the original source. Though it’s surprisingly hard to get more than three links. Here’s some examples:

Apple Macintosh computers are named after their inventor’s favourite type of apple, the McIntosh Red. The McIntosh Red is named after the Canadian farmer who first grew it, John McIntosh,  1777-1846. I suppose we could go back further by claiming that John was in a sense named after Shaw MacDuff, who founded the clan Mac an Toisich (son of the chieftan), but that feels like cheating.

They Might Be Giants, the band, are named after ‘They Might Be Giants’, the 1971 film starring George C Scott, which in turn is named after Don Quixote’s reason for tilting at windmills.

Winnie the Pooh  was named after a black bear at London zoo named Winnie (and a swan named Pooh, but we’ll concentrate on Winnie). Winnie the bear was donated to the zoo by Lt Harry Colebourn, who bought it from a hunter in Canada, and named it after the city of Winnipeg. Winnipeg takes its name from the Cree words meaning ‘Muddy Waters’.

The Kit Kat biscuit was first made by Rowntree’s in 1935, and named after the Kit Cat Club, an 18th century artists’ club. The club was (probably) named after the ‘Kit Cat’, a mutton pie served at the chop house where the club originally met. And the Kit Cat pie was named after its baker, the pastrycook Christopher (or ‘Kit’) Catling.

Incidentally, Kit Kats (the biscuits, not the mutton pies) have recently become very popular in Japan, particularly at exam season, because the name sounds similar to the Japanese phrase ‘Kitto Katso’, meaning ‘ You will surely win’, and a tradition has arisen of giving them as good luck charms.

So, if a seventeenth century pastrycook had preferred the abbreviation ‘Chris’ to ‘Kit’, it’s fair to assume the Nestle corporation would have lost a significant sum of money in the twenty first century. Bet you didn’t know that this morning.  

12 comments:

John Finnemore said...

Not one but two mentions of Canada in today's post, I notice. I expect this to go down big with the blog's resident Canada correspondent...

Stu said...

We wait ...

Fab info by the way John. Been stuck indoors long?

Persephone said...

You can't mean me, surely?

...and if you can bear it, you can watch this, one of the many "Heritage Minutes" produced for Canadian television over the past twenty years or so. This one manages to ignore the fact that Harry Colbourn was actually born in Birmingham, and to have us believe that EH Shepard hung out at the zoo with AA Milne and Christopher Robin.

The Heritage Minutes are very well-known here --- and heavily parodied. We also have one for Flanders Fields (featuring top Canadian actor Colm Feore), of course, but I'll spare you that one.

Richard O. Smith said...

Superb hippocampus swelling facts, John. And I can imagine Stephen Fry showering you with points on Q.I. whilst Alan Davies continues pretending he’s thick to ensure the conceptual premise of the show isn’t exposed as unworkable.

Of all the facts, I think the Kit Kat one probably takes the biscuit (I could hear the groan in Canada; I’ll let myself out.)

Kate said...

Kitto Katsu, actually.

Rachel said...

This is so cool! Ahhh!!

Anonymous said...

I think you need to recognize the 100th birthday of Winnie the Pooh, Aug. 24 2014.

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