Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bread Brands and Phonetics

Today at the grocery store I came across a brand of bread of which I had never before seen or heard.

My first thought upon seeing the bread was, "who, on God's green earth, would name their bread after sleazy woman?"

n. pl. bim·bos
1. Slang A woman regarded as vacuous or as having an exaggerated interest in her sexual appeal.
2. Slang A vacuous person: "a male bimbo ... who even has to be tutored ... in the clichés that comprise the basic interview" (George F. Will).
n. pl. -bos, -boes
1. an attractive but empty-headed young woman
2. a fellow; person esp a foolish one
The Free Dictionary

It wasn't until I turned the loaf over that I realized the brand's first vowel is meant to be pronounced as /i:/ and not /I/.

When I did a bit of research, I was surprised to see that Bimbo Bakeries USA owns brands that include: Arnold, Boboli, Entenmann's, Sara Lee, Thomas' and more.

How had I never heard of Bimbo Bakeries if they own all of these brands that I purchase on a regular basis?

Their website's history link provides the answer; it wasn't until the 2000s that they began acquiring other companies that owned the brands with which I am familiar in Michigan.

In all fairness, the word bimbo does have a different definition and pronunciation in Italy where the parent company originated.

n. Italy,
"Bimbo" is a common nice word, used as a diminutive of (male) child. Child = Bambino = Bimbo.

For US marketing purposes, however, I would think the company would use a different name for their bakery products.


Licia said...

I am Italian and the word bimbo associated to a bakery product simply doesn't sound right to me. Nowadays I don't think anyone in Italy would use it to name any food new on the market as it would sound old-fashioned (the English word would be more likely!). Incidentally, in Italian we say /ˈbimbo/, with a "short" vowel, so the "beembo" approximation doesn't sound terribly right either.

Laura Payne said...

Licia - Thank you for reading and commenting. I was hoping someone with knowledge of Italian would.

Licia said...

Oops, it looks like I forgot to specify which English word I meant. It was baby.

4ndyman said...

bimbo is also a soft drink brand out of Peru. Coca-Cola owns it now.

That's right: You can get a Bimbo from a vending machine in Peru.

Laura Payne said...

4ndyman - That is too funny. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Textículos said...

In portuguese it means "douchebag".

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