I am wondering about the phenomenon of brand names being commonly used to describe certain foods.

For example, I recently heard the phrase “to eat cheetos“.

Other examples could be to eat/drink...

  • smarties
  • kellogg's
  • pepsi
  • ...

Is there a word that describes this phenomenon of using brand names when referring to certain foods or drinks?

An example for one way of using it:

“I am sick of people who are constantly [word that describes the phenomenon of using brand names]!“

marked as duplicate by Laurel, fixer1234, k1eran, Edwin Ashworth, Community Jun 12 '17 at 4:43

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  • 1
    A British speaker, I presume. I don't think the brand Smarties exist in the US, its nearest equivalent is called Skittles if memory serves me correctly. Kellog's doesn't really work because they sell several different cereals, but I would understand immediately what is meant. I think it's kind of cute, it might get annoying if everyone spoke this way, but I don't think it's that widespread. Are you a BrEng speaker? – Mari-Lou A Jun 11 '17 at 11:19
  • 4
    It's called "speaking". Just as if you say "I saw Jim yesterday." – Hot Licks Jun 11 '17 at 11:37
  • 1
    OK perhaps I misunderstood your question, you're not referring to someone who uses the brand name in place of the food term, e.g I drank some soda/pop vs I drank a Pepsi. It's normal to say what you had to eat or drink during the day especially where snack foods are concerned. "We went out for a MacDonald's", "He only had some Pringles for lunch", and I could tell a friend "I ordered a cup of Lady/Earl Grey (tea) at ____". I don't think it odd at all. P.S Brand names should always be capitalised. – Mari-Lou A Jun 11 '17 at 12:17
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    The phrase brand-dropping appears to have some currency, but it would usually be considered a form of boasting (about having or being able to afford the big name brands), so I'm not sure that's what you want. – Steve Lovell Jun 11 '17 at 15:31
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    @Au101 Right you are, Skittles (which were first produced in the UK) are fruit flavoured sweets, aka jelly beans, while British Smarties are practically the same as sugar-coated "M&Ms". – Mari-Lou A Jun 11 '17 at 23:09

“I am sick of people who are constantly genericizing trademarks!“

A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that, due to its popularity and/or significance, has become the generic name for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, usually against the intentions of the trademark's holder. [...] A trademark is said to become genericized when it begins as a distinctive product identifier but changes in meaning to become generic.

Thermos,[4] Kleenex, Dumpster and Realtor are examples of trademarks that have become genericized in the US. - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_trademark

  • @Clare your comment brings to my mind ... "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;" – k1eran Jun 11 '17 at 22:29
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    Sorry............ – AmE speaker Jun 11 '17 at 22:30
  • @Clare no worries; I hadn't noticed the close vote originally, but I agree it's a duplicate so ... will vote accordingly! – k1eran Jun 11 '17 at 22:35

Product-place or support product-placement.

The person doing what you describe might be doing it only because the brand name is what occurs to them, to represent the generic thing. Or they might be doing it as a kind of promotion, or intentional product placement. Or they might be doing it because they are unconsciously repeating what they've heard or seen in some commercial product placement.

See Product placement, Wikipedia.

(For a good example of food-product placement, check out season 5 of Orange is the New Black, where both Cheetos and Takis are shown and referred to constantly in the last few episodes.)

  • Care to explain the downvote? – Drew Jun 11 '17 at 19:11
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    I upvoted to reverse the down-vote. This is, of course, the point: that we use brand names because advertisers are successful; if they're too successful, the brand name becomes a generic. – Xanne Jun 11 '17 at 19:33
  • “The person doing what you describe might be doing it only because the brand name is what occurs to them, to represent the generic thing.“ I think that comes pretty close. Maybe we could call it something like 'generic and subconscious product placement'? – Harmless Psycho Jun 11 '17 at 19:37
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    But this term doesn't apply when the product is not being "promoted", but rather it's just people saying what they had for lunch or whatever. – Hot Licks Jun 11 '17 at 19:58
  • @HotLicks: Agreed: it does not apply consciously in such cases. But even then it generally has the effect of promoting the product. Whether the OP wants to consider this use as product-placement or not is a question. Personally, I'd opt for coining product-place as a verb, with a healthily negative (for me) connotation. And I'd use it to point out to someone that by using a brand name they are, in effect, promoting that brand to some degree. I wouldn't use it for the occasional reference, but I might call out repetitive reference as (probably unintentional) product placement. – Drew Jun 11 '17 at 20:52

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