Lost in Translation
by Joey Green

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Barf Detergent
In Iran, people put Barf in their washing machines. “Barf will get your clothes amazingly clean,” boast the instructions on the side of the box. “To obtain best results of Barf . . . soak the clothes in a solution of Barf for a few hours or preferably overnight and then wash as usual.” In Farsi, the word barf means “snow,” and if you love the smell of Barf, you can use the extensive line of Barf products to soak your underwear, shampoo your hair or wash your entire body . . . in Barf.

Paxan, an Iranian company founded in 1962, proudly produces Barf and other hygiene products. CEO Hooshang Balazadeh Niri states that the company’s mission is “upgrading society health,” by, presumably, churning out top-notch Barf. The side of the box reports even more reassuring news: “Barf is safe for all washable fabrics.”

Does the former Beatle endorse or bake these tasty Italian sandwich cookies (a chocolate wafer and a vanilla wafer with a cream filling in between)? A quick examination of the tube-shaped package reveals that Pavesi, a biscuit company founded in 1937 by Mario Pavesi in Novara, Italy, began making the sandwich cookies in 1967, the same year the Beatles released “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “All You Need Is Love.” Pavesi claims he named the sandwich cookies Ringo because of their circular shape and the way the two wafers surround the cream filling—although he freely admits that in the 1960s he traveled to America to seek inspiration and tap into teenage fashions and trends. Did Pavesi intentionally borrow Ringo Starr’s name? Or was he inspired by the 1965 spaghetti Western A Pistol for Ringo, which tells the story of a 19th-century outlaw? Do you want to know a secret? We may never know. But I can tell you this much: Ringo Starr has never endorsed the cookies.

Schovit Chocolate Drink Mix
When your kids yell, “I’m thirsty!” now you can reply, “Schovit!” And no one is offended. From Germany comes a chocolate powdered drink mix for both hot and cold milk that—in English— suggests that, well, you drink it really fast?

A store brand produced and sold exclusively at Aldi-Nord grocery stores in Northern Europe, Schovit (pronounced SHOH’-fit.) is a hybrid name formed by combining the first syllables of the German words schokolade (meaning “chocolate”) and both vital (for the abundance of essential glucose in the product) and vitamins (for the added vitamins above the recommended daily dose). The easily misconstrued name may explain why this vitamin-boosted chocolate mix has yet to achieve popularity in English-speaking countries.

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Copyright © 2014 Joey Green. All rights reserved.
Reprinted from American Way magazine.


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