Here in the United States and in many countries, you can apply a touch of Vaseline to that patch of dried skin before you venture out into the world. In Spain, however, you’d be applying the same product but you’d call it Vasenol, because over there “vaseline” is a generic term for skin lotion.

As you’d expect, that’s the case with a lot of American products sold around the world. Many manufacturers decided (or were forced) to change the names of their products for various reasons. Let’s take a look at some of those products, beginning with breakfast.

Many people around here start their day with a bowl of Cocoa Krispies, which Kellogg’s calls Coco Pops in the United Kingdom (the box features a mascot called Coco the Monkey).

Other folks might fancy a bowl of Rice Krispies, unless they’re in Australia or New Zealand, that is. There, for some reason, they enjoy a bowl of Rice Bubbles, which still feature the cereal’s mascots Snap, Crackle and Pop on the box. (During the 1960s, the onomatopoeic trio was joined briefly by a fourth “pitchelf” named Pow, who was from outer space and didn’t speak.)

Now that breakfast is done, let’s do a little cleaning. Our Mr. Clean goes by a lot of different aliases depending on where he’s located. In the UK and Ireland, he’s known as Flash. In France and Belgium he’s Monsieur Propre and in Germany he’s Meister Proper. In Canada’s French-speaking areas, Procter & Gamble’s product is called Monsieur Net. No matter what his last name is, his first is “Veritably,” thanks to the “Give Mr. Clean a First Name” promotion of 1962.

When it’s time to do the laundry in Europe, folks don’t reach for Downy fabric softener, instead it goes by the name Lenor because that “was already a known name in cleaning supplies in Europe.”


It was for that same reason that PepsiCo decided to keep the names of their Walkers crisps and Smith’s potato chip brands in Great Britain and Australia, respectively, instead of changing them to Lays. Ditto for the Mars company when it decided to stay with Galaxy in Great Britain instead of changing its chocolate brand’s name to Dove.

Time to head out for a little shopping. While we might start our trip by gassing up our SUV at the Exxon station, the rest of the world still stops at Esso stations. The company’s name was changed to Exxon to unify the brand’s name across America after Standard Oil of New Jersey (S.O.) bought Humble Oil in 1972.

The next time you’re shopping for a bargain across the pond, one of the places you’ll want to pop into is the nearest TK Maxx store. That’s because when TJ Maxx’s parent company, TJX, decided to expand into Europe they soon learned that they’d have to change the name so as not to be confused with another large retailer, TJ Hughes.

If you’re ready for a snack, Doritos are always a good choice – just don’t go looking for the Cool Ranch variety in Great Britain. Over there they’re known as Cool American Doritos because it appears that not everyone is as crazy about ranch dressing as we are.

Even Coca Cola found it needed to tweak a product name across the Atlantic. That’s because “diet” doesn’t mean “low-calorie” in some parts of the world, so Diet Coke is known as Coca Cola Light.

In Canada, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese goes by ”Kraft Dinner” (or sometimes just “KD”), and in the country’s Quebec Province, Kentucky Fried Chicken is called PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky) thanks to the province’s charter that requires all business names to be in French.

And finally, if you want to go to a Burger King in Australia, you’ll need to look for a Hungry Jack’s (also called HJ’s) instead. The reason for that is because there was already a chain of Burger King restaurants there, so BK owner Pillsbury let franchisee Jack Cowin choose another name from the company’s trademarked roster. He decided to go with the name of Pillsbury’s pancake mix. It didn’t hurt that the new name matched his first name.

In case you’re wondering, no matter how you slice it, the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s first name is Poppin’ Fresh and his wife is Poppie. Their children are Popper and Bun Bun. (I should stop here even though I really hate to because I’m on a roll.)

Jim Witherell of Lewiston is a writer and lover of words whose work includes “L.L. Bean: The Man and His Company” and “Ed Muskie: Made in Maine.” He can be reached at

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