Photo: Shutterstock/Steve Cukrov
We all have our favorite pantry items, from snacks to canned fruit to bags of chocolate chips. And sometimes those things become so popular that instead of calling them by their actual name, we start calling them by the brand name instead. Even if we aren’t actually using that brand.
It’s a phenomenon known as genericization, and it’s happened to a few of the biggest, most beloved brands throughout American history. Below are some of the branded pantry items that have become household names.
Those resealable plastic bags you use to hold snacks in your kids’ lunches or marinate chicken for fajitas? They may not actually be Ziploc brand, but chances are you call them that. Fun fact: The new line of Ziploc Evolve bags are made with wind power and use 35 percent less plastic.
You use it to grease a cookie sheet or stop muffins from sticking to the pan. But it isn’t all Crisco—it’s vegetable shortening. Created in 1911 by mega company Procter & Gamble, Crisco was the first shortening to be made completely of vegetable oil.
4. Saran wrap
This has become the generic term for the plastic wrap used to store food or cover casseroles. It’s also essential in avoiding freezer burn. On average, the plastic film is about .5 thousandths of an inch thick (the thinner, the better). Saran plastic wrap, invented back in 1949, is owned by S.C. Johnson & Son.
You probably use this name for whatever reusable food storage container is holding last night’s lasagna leftovers. Tupperware, named for company founder Earle Silas Tupper, initially gained traction with one of the country’s first successful direct-marketing campaigns—Tupperware parties. These home parties are credited with helping to get more women into the workplace.
Whether you end up using Pepsi, an off brand or actual Coca-Cola in your chocolate cake batter, it’s all the same: a soft drink. Fortunately, everyone’s beloved sugary soda is no longer the original cocaine-infused recipe.
All those “Crock-Pot recipes” you have bookmarked on your Pinterest board are made in a slow cooker, not necessarily the kitchen appliance sold by Sunbeam Products. The slow cookers became popular in the late 20th century when women were entering the workforce and needed to find a way to go to work and also have dinner on the table for the family.
8. Cool Whip
It’s everyone’s favorite addition to pumpkin pie and ice cream sundaes. Cool Whip is the most consumed whipped topping in the United States. But it isn’t always Cool Whip (made by Kraft Foods). The generic term is whipped topping or imitation whipped cream.
Believe it or not, the term kiwifruit has been owned by the New Zealand brand Zespri since 1997. You can call the fuzzy brown fruit in your lemonade a Chinese gooseberry instead.
Nabisco touts Oreos as America’s favorite cookie, but many people use Oreos to describe any chocolate sandwich cookies. The original cream-filled cookies are sold by the Nabisco division of Mondelez International. And the tag line isn’t lying: Oreo has been the country’s best-selling cookie since it was first introduced in 1912.
There’s no shame in calling an off-brand product by a brand name (we’re all guilty of it!). But these are fun facts to tuck away for future use. Next time a friend asks you to pass the Tupperware so she can store her leftover Oreo cheesecake, you can correct her (politely) with a smile.