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.