The Real Names of Brand Name Products

December 1, 2010 at 2:00 am 21 comments

By Kaye Nemec

The weather is getting cold and the air is getting dry. We’re going through more Kleenex and additional Chapstick. We’re cooking warm meals in our Crock Pots and soon we’ll be getting out the wrapping paper and Scotch Tape to prepare for the holidays.

Kleenex, Chapstick, Crock Pots and Scotch Tape are all things that have become common, household names and most of us don’t think twice before calling them by these titles. Like many other popular products, the brand names have become more widely used than their original names.  Replacing generic names with brand names has become so common that they have even coined a term for it – Genericide.

Below is a list of items that we commonly use the brand name for instead of the actual name.

  • Kleenex – tissue
  • Chapstick – lip balm
  • Crock Pot – slow cooker
  • Scotch Tape – clear tape
  • Bubble Wrap – inflated cushioning
  • Rollerblades – in-line skates
  • Kotex – feminine care products
  • Band-Aid – bandage
  • Q-tip – cotton swab, ear buds, ear sticks
  • White Out – correction fluid
  • Coke – soda/pop
  • Frisbee – flying disc
  • Jell-O – gelatin dessert
  • JumboTron – large screen television
  • Post-its – sticky notes
  • Speedo – skin-tight swim briefs
  • Tupperware – storage containers
  • Ziploc – zipper bags or zip-top bags

In many cases, the product name seems awkward compared to the brand name.

We have even turned some brand names into verbs. Google has become so popular that when people are looking something up they will often say they are “Googling” it. When someone is cleaning with a disposable towel mop, they may call it “Swiffering”, whether they are using a Swiffer branded product or not.

Brands whose products have evolved into generic, household terms, fear that competitors will eventually take their name and, essentially, their brand away from them. In fact, a few products that you’ve probably heard of have already lost their trademark protection and are now able to be called by their previous brand name by any manufacturer. Examples include, Escalator, Yo-Yo, Zipper, Thermos and Aspirin.

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Sources: Reflections of Pop Culture & Life’s ChallengesThe Washington Post,

Photo: Roadsidepictures (cc)

Entry filed under: Around The House, History and Origins. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Autumn  |  December 1, 2010 at 11:12 am

    “Coke” to refer to soda in general is more of a regional thing. If you’re referring to the Coke/Pepsi milieu (i.e. beverages which evolved from those flavored with kola nut), cola is more accurate. This may also be a distortion of the Coca-Cola brand name, though, as the flavor was originally called (of course) kola.

  • 2. Catalyst  |  December 1, 2010 at 11:46 am

    You left off one of the most common ones – Xerox!

    • 3. makaleigh  |  October 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      they left out Xeroxing and Popsicle!!

  • 4. evil taco  |  December 1, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    it’s not clear tape. It’s cellophane tape.

  • 5. Paul  |  December 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    it’s not clear tape. It’s NOT cellophane tape. Its sticky tape!! : )

    • 6. Makandriaco  |  July 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Its not clear tape, not cellophane tape, not sticky tape… Its scotch tape!!! … Oh, we are back at the begining… LOL

  • 7. Jim  |  December 1, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    They’re also called proprietary eponyms.
    Here’s a bunch:

  • 8. saricima  |  December 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    how ’bout Velcro? aka- hook and loop tape.

    • 9. Court  |  August 16, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      No, it is actually called a hook-and-loop fastener. Not tape.

  • 10. cole  |  December 6, 2010 at 4:01 am

    I wouldn’t be caught dead calling them “Kleenex.” But we’re Puffs people. d=

    I also agree about Coke being a regional thing. In fact, I’ve only ever heard reference to Coke equaling soda in the media. I’ve never actually witnessed it.

    I’m curious if anyone uses Kotex in this context. I’ve never heard of that and the brand itself is super uncommon these days. A modern version would probably be Always

  • 11. Craig  |  January 20, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Another common one is calling a spa or hot tub a “Jacuzzi”.

  • 12. Jan Edmondson  |  February 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    How about Formica?

  • 13. Brandicionado » Say My Name. Say My Name.  |  February 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    […], The Washington Post, Broken Secrets, Database of American Proprietary Eponyms, Brand Names that We Call Generic […]

  • 14. Osababobafett  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Jet Ski :D

  • 15. makaleigh  |  October 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    They left out Xeroxing and Popsicle!!

  • 16. Nick  |  November 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Saran Wrap

  • 17. Tachuffney  |  February 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    What about Cellotape, Hoover, Tannoy, & Typex?

  • 18. Makandriaco  |  July 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    How about a PC? it was actually the brand name for IBM Personal Computer before the XP or AT. Did you ever had a Twinkie? (that was popular some time ago). Drink some Kool-Aid. Pack it with Styrofoam. Highlight it wit a Hi-Liter. Lego, Walkman, And i have heard people calling any cerial “Cheerios”

  • 19. référencement bing  |  March 10, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    You are sso awesome! I do not suppoose I’ve truly read through anything like this before.
    So good too find somebody with a few unique thoughts oon this issue.

    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that’s needed on the web,
    someone with a little originality!

  • 20. calkid  |  December 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    another one is how the brand name “Skill Saw” for a circular saw is used for every brand of ciruclar saw. I asked a neighbor who is pretty good with wood work a few years ago if he had a circular saw> He laughed and said “Do you mean a skill saw” i tried to explain to him that “Skill is he brand name” i said Craftsman makes a cirucular saw and it isn’t called a Skill Saw but a circular saw. he finally understood how the brand name became used to describe all ciruclar saws and he was 40 years old at the time lol

  • 21. Elton Sipes  |  January 4, 2022 at 8:48 pm

    I was taught at young age about Locking Pliers. But other people call them Vice Grips.
    I took my 82 year old uncle to Home Depot a few yeas ago. In the tool isle, I asked him to point out Vice Grips to me. He pointed to one of the locking pliers, and then I said “but the package reads ‘ChannelLock” He got confused. I told him to point out a pair of Channel Lock pliers to me and he reached up and took them off the hook and showed me. I said to him “if that is what they are called, they why does the package read ‘Vice Grip”? I tried to explain that Channel Lock and Vice Grip are simply name of companies. Like most people, the truth goes in an ear, rolls around, and falls back out. I sometimes will have a friend that asks me for a Crescent wrench, i open my tool box and get out a couple Crescent combination wrenches, and say “what size do you want?


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