Monday, December 8, 2008

what's in a name? have a taste and see

Sometimes my brain does very odd things with words. I am not referring to the mildly bizarre, yet simple, word associations like grateful --> full of graters or confusions like did he die in the fire --> upgrade to papaya which, though perhaps surprising, are nevertheless logically traceable in morphological and/or phonetic terms.

No, no, here I am thinking of an even weirder phenomenon.

Exhibit A: Lenscrafters.

Remember Lenscrafters? Sure, they're still around. These days they don't seem to be advertising much, though, at least not like they were a couple of decades ago. Recognize this?

There is really no reason that this ad should be memorable. It's not funny; it's not clever; it's not aesthetically pleasing; it has no catchy theme music. The 3-D graphics--the lab dropping into the store--were pretty cool for their time, I guess, but not spectacular. The apparently 80s fashion may be amusing now, but it's not really all that glaring and, in the 80s, it wasn't really strange.

Nothing, indeed, makes this commercial memorable except that, for me, it conjures up crackers. That seems simple enough, given the visual and aural similarities between the words crafters and crackers. But it's not that simple, I tell you. This unassuming, and really rather boring, commercial, creates for me the impression of a very specific taste. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but it has always been the same, ever since I first saw the ad as a very young child. The best description that I can formulate at the moment is like a sort of stale Saltine cracker that is not very salty and slightly sweet besides.

Seriously. Where does that come from?

Exhibit B: Whitney

Here is another one. It is similar to Exhibit A both in effect and in duration: I can remember experiencing both phenomena since I was about five years old.

However, Exhibit B is, as I see it, far more inexplicable.

I'll keep this compact and posit just the question:

Why should the name Whitney make me think of, and nearly experience, the fragrant, sweet, just slightly tangy taste of vanilla yogurt, specifically the Yoplait variety?


Does this happen to anyone else?

1 comment:

rantipoler said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure I can empathize with the taste associations, but I can say that I associate the name Whitney with the word witless. Perhaps because that's the secret nasty nickname I have for a certain someone. I only ever say to myself (in my head), but I do fear that some day it may accidentally slip out. Kind of like I have to avoid the word Utahns in order not to say something else that's not a very nice substitute for that word but is stuck in my mind nonetheless.