1) My Favorite Cereal
I was walking down "aisle 10" in Ralph’s Supermarket today to buy my usual healthy, but cardboard-tasting "high-fiber" cereal, when I started reminiscing about the sugar-high cereals of my youth: Lucky Charms, Trix, Frosted Flakes, and my all time favorite — Sugar Pops — or Sugar Corn Pops, depending on what year you started eating them. I used to love those bright yellow crunchy bits of sugar that somehow were related to "wholesome corn" and kept their crunch quite well, unlike the wimpy and soggy Rice Krispies.
My current supermarket had many cereals on sale, almost too many, and there was a whole section devoted just to Kellogg’s products. But when I saw the familiar yellow box, I was quite surprised to learn that Sugar Pops were not called Sugar Pops anymore. No. Now, they are just called Pops. The word "Pops" was written in some pseudo-graffiti font and there was some sort of promotion going on for snowboarding. This was obviously a Sugar Pops for a new generation. But are parents so stupid to think that Pops are any healthier than the Sugar Pops they used to eat, just because Kellogg’s dropped the "Sugar" from the name?
Maybe Sugar Pops are more successful nowadays as just Pops. Changing names can be a powerful illusion, like changing Kentucky Fried Chicken to the heart-healthy KFC.
2) Real Estate
When I was growing up in Flushing, there was a housing project across the street. The residents were mostly those on welfare and other federal assistance programs. While it was a noble idea in principle, it was a nightmare for the neighborhood. The crime rate zoomed, and women were frequently attacked walking the streets. After a few years, there was so much community uproar about "the projects," that they were closed down. A few months later, they were taken over by a private company, quickly painted over, and renamed "Georgetown Mews." My friends and I always joked about this, as if this ultra-pretentious name somehow transformed this ugly complex into something sophisticated.
With real estate so hot, I see this type of "naming" used all the time. For instance, on the way to Palm Springs recently, I noticed what used to be an empty lot in a god-forsaken desert area between LA and Palm Springs. Now, it has been transformed into "Rawhide Ranch," as if any actual horse wouldn’t immediately drop dead in the area’s 120 degree heat.
New York and San Francisco have always been very successful in turning a rundown part of the city into some hip enclave. Step one: promote the area with some cool name like Tribeca, Soho, DUMBO, etc. Los Angeles is now getting into the game by "trying to trick hipsters into leasing Skid Row lofts: the Old Bank District."
Why not? It works.
3) Concentration Camps
Changing your name is frequently a way of hiding your past. When a company does something illegal, they often come back with a changed name — and a fresh start. Sometimes a name is associated with a disaster. That’s why after ValuJet crashed in the Florida Everglades, they changed their name to AirTran. It’s not surprising that Poland even wants to to rename Auschwitz.
"Poland is trying to change the name of Auschwitz concentration camp to emphasize that Nazi Germans, not Poles, were responsible for the most murderous center of the Holocaust.
The government has asked the United Nations to change the name of its World Heritage site from "Auschwitz Concentration Camp" to "the Former Nazi German Concentration Camp of Auschwitz.""
Who’s going to say that mouthful? I think most people remember that the Nazis were the bad guys. Name changing is a powerful instrument. What do you think Poland is trying to forget about it’s own past?
I understand that living in Auschwitz might be a drag. But, hey, why not just build a Six Flags there so Auschwitz can change its reputation from the "place with a death camp" to a "place for fun?"