Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beaner's Coffee House takes the heat and changes name

We're naming a coffee company this week, and I came across this article about an unfortunate name. Yikes!

Changing coffee house's name was 'right thing to do,' says Biggby CEO
Posted by Erin Albanese | The Grand Rapids Press June 26, 2008 22:02PM

GRAND RAPIDS -- Biggby Coffee CEO and co-founder Bob Fish chalks up gracing his stores with the name Beaner's to Midwest naivete.

"Beaner's to us didn't mean anything but coffee," said Fish, whose firm changed the name of its stores in November.

Although the financial impact of that $1 million decision won't be evident until next January, growth in store numbers is a positive indicator, he said.

The East Lansing-based franchise now has 100 stores in nine states, with a forecast to grow to 250 by 2010, he told members of The West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America at the University Club on Thursday.

"The most important reason we changed the name is because we felt it was the right thing to do. We are a company of inclusion not of exclusion," he said.

Customers -- about 700 who posted comments on its Web site -- expressed both support and dismay with the change.

When he opened his first store in 1995, there was no Internet to search, said Fish, who owns the brand with partners Mike McFall and Mary Roszel.

"We would have Googled it and found out there were any repercussions to having that name," he said.

As more stores opened and Beaner's became a franchise, Fish heard more and more comments the moniker was a disparaging term for Mexican-Americans.

It was not a well-known term at the time in Michigan, but Southerners sometimes registered shock at the name. There was never a lawsuit or organized boycott, however.

"It was becoming more ubiquitous as time went on," he said.

Fish realized he might be excluding a segment of the population, even if it realized the name referred to coffee.

"It didn't mean they would walk around with a cup that said Beaner's on it," he said.

Fish turned to Grand Rapids-based public relations firm Lambert Edwards & Associates to help facilitate the change.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wired Wants You to (Re)name NASA's Next Martian Rover

Here's a recent naming contest we read about on the Wired Blog Network - go for it!

(Re)name NASA's Next Martian Rover
By Alexis Madrigal
January 20, 2009

With the recent detection of seasonal Martian methane emissions — which microbes could be generating or eating, NASA's next robotic mission to the planet could become the most exciting unmanned mission in the history of the agency, especially if it discovers definitive evidence of extraterrestrial life.

NASA claims the rover, which currently goes by the painfully dull name Mars Science Laboratory, will be the most capable rover ever, with a larger payload of more sophisticated instruments. Originally scheduled to launch in October 2009, "testing and hardware challenges" have pushed the date to the next window when Mars and Earth are favorably aligned in fall 2011. The rover's main task is to answer the burning question of whether the red planet ever was, or still is, habitable for microbial life.

We think a rover with such a cool mission mission needs a better name. Even NASA honchos know: They are holding a kid-centric naming contest sponsored by Wall-E to replace the current dry moniker.

Call us homers, but we have more faith in Wired Science readers than we do in your little cousins to come up with the type of awe-inducing name that will fit the next-gen rover. After all, you did an inspiring job with the Mars Phoenix Twitter epitaph contest. So, we're introducing another Reddit widget below for you to go wild with. You can submit your own name and vote on others through Jan. 26.

We can't promise that NASA will have anything to do with our official nickname, but we will link it from our future stories on the rover.

To Submit a Rover Name to Wired, click on the original blog post and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'll have the Blackened Sea Kitten please.

We love animals here at Eat My Words. In fact, we own a menagerie that includes dogs, cats, several goats and one really mean goose. However, we think PETA has gone a little overboard with their new Trout_sea_kittencampaign to change the name of fish to "sea kittens". The thinking is that if we view them as fluffy aquatic purrmeisters we won't indulge in their delicious, buttery, flaky, flavor-filled goodness.

However, just in case they want to extend the campaign. Here are some other renaming possibilities to get people off the meat wagon:

Chicken = Mini American Bald Eagles

Lamb = Billowy White Cloud Angels

Pork = Pen Pals

Beef = Barn Puppies

In a related story, there have been three sea kitten attacks off the coast of Australia in the past two days.