For me, washing dishes is meditative. As I wash the dishes, I am also flushing away all my worries. Also, dishwashing is exciting — SUDS, water water water, CLEAN! It’s like magic.
The day after moving into my Cambridge home, my housemate Di exclaimed, ‘Joan, you’re so funny! What are the marigolds for?’
‘Marigolds?’ What was she she was talking about?
Di pointed to the new yellow dishwashing gloves that I had just hung over the kitchen sink. ‘That’s what we call kitchen gloves in the US.’
I had bought the gloves on my first trip to the supermarket. Gloves are an important aid to my dishwashing habit.
‘Why are they called marigolds?’ I asked.
‘Oh, I think it’s a brand name,’ Di said.
Interesting. What was it about Marigold gloves that had turned the brand into a generic noun? (*)
The next time I was in the kitchen section of the store, I noticed the hanging rack of Marigold kitchen gloves. I wanted to try them out but I hesitated. They were more than four times the cost of the basic brand of gloves I had bought (£1.25 compared to £0.30 a pair). Could Marigolds really be that special?
I shrugged and picked out a small yellow pair to put in my shopping basket.
I have now been buying Marigolds for all my dishwashing needs for two years. They really are the best ever dishwashing gloves. Lined with flocked cotton, Marigolds feel so nice when I put them on. They also last a lot longer than the basic gloves.
In conclusion, Marigolds make dishwashing even more enjoyable.
(*) Other brands-turned-generic-nouns/verbs include:
- ‘Gladwrap’ for ‘cling film’ (Australia)
- ‘Hoover’ for ‘vacuum cleaner’ (UK)
- ‘Xerox’ for ‘photocopier’ (USA)
- ‘Kleenex’ for ’tissue’ (USA)
- ‘Fedex’ for ‘courier’ (USA)
- ‘Ramen’ for ‘instant noodles’ (USA)
- ‘Tivo’ for ‘hard disk recorder’ (USA… can someone confirm this?)
- ‘Rollerblade’ for the noun ‘in line skates’ (international?)
- ‘Photoshop’ for ‘Digital image editing’ (international?)
- ‘PowerPoint’ for ‘computer presentation slides’ (international?)
- (defunct?) ‘Walkman’ for ‘portable casette player’ (international)
- (emerging) ‘Google‘ for ‘web search’ (international?)
Goodness! Of course I should have expected it — people have written about this topic already. See Wikipedia — Genericized trademark, and a slideshow on AOL — Brand Icons That Made a ‘Name’ for Themselves (a bit US-centric but I didn’t know jacuzzi was a name brand!).
Other suggestions welcome, especially for Australia (I suspect ‘esky’ is one of these).
And why does it seem that the US is prone to turning brand names into generic labels? This is also interesting — examples from other languages and countries.