8 Brand Names With Punctuation Problems

Punctuation can be a headache, even when it's just inside a name. Here are eight brand names with problems caused by those important little marks.

1. MINI MOO'S 

Mini Moo’s are little cartons of half and half … wait that’s not right…Mini Moo’s is a coffee creamer product packaged in an individual serving size. There, I guess that’s how the company wants you to say it. Why else would it have an apostrophe before the s? Who is this Mini Moo that the creamer belongs to? Is she a tiny cow that doles out her milk in tiny portions? Even if we generously assume that was the intended reading, it is too tempting for people to think of a collection of separately packaged individual servings in the plural. Even the official product description says “Land O Lakes Mini Moo’s Half & Half don’t [emphasis added] require refrigeration.”  

2. LAND O LAKES

Land O’Lakes, the maker of Mini Moo’s, has other kinds of apostrophe problems too. While the name of the corporation is Land O’Lakes, with the apostrophe, the brand name on products is Land O Lakes, without the apostrophe. So Land O Lakes Mini Moo’s is (are?) made by Land O’Lakes, Inc. 

3. FILET-O-FISH

Like the o in Land O’Lakes, the o in McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish properly stands for of. In other words that shorten of in this way, like Will-o’-the-wisp, Jack-o’-lantern, cat o’ nine tails, and man-o’-war, an apostrophe stands for the missing letter f. So is there an of in Filet-O-Fish? Is a Filet-O-Fish actually a filet of fish? The only time McDonald’s has used an apostrophe in connection with the Filet-O-Fish was in the name of the sandwich’s (now retired) mascot, Phil A. O’Fish. In that case it looks like the O’ of Irish surnames, which doesn’t come from the word of, but from an Irish word meaning “descended from.”

4. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s

Are there two letters missing from the name of the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s sports bar franchise? “Beef [F]o[r] Brady’s”? “Beef [N]o[t] Brady’s”? Wait, no. When a letter is dropped from the beginning of a word, there should be a left-facing apostrophe, like the ones in tis or get em, not a right-facing opening single quote. So what we have here is an O in single quotes. It’s like the O is being used not for its meaning, but as an example of something. Perhaps an example of a symbol of Irish bar themeyness.

5. Lands’ End

Land’s End, with the apostrophe before the s, refers to the tip of a peninsula, as far out as you can go before there’s no more land. But what is Lands’ End supposed to be? The end of a bunch of different lands? Turns out, it’s just an old mistake that never got righted. Founder Gary Comer explained, “it was a typo in our first printed piece, and we couldn’t afford to reprint and correct it.” 

6. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Whose steakhouse is it anyway? In 1965 a Louisiana woman named Ruth Fertel bought a restaurant called Chris Steak House. She got to keep the original name, which was already well-established, on the condition that she stay at the original location. So when she moved to a new location after a fire in 1974, she had to change the name, and it became the complicated mouthful that is Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. 

7. Toys “R” Us

The backwards R on the Toys “R” Us sign is a noticeable part of the brand, but it’s not a punctuation problem. The scare quotes around the R, however, are punctuation, and they do make things difficult. Though the quotes don’t appear on every sign, the official corporate name is Toys “R” Us Inc. Why the scare quotes? Do they think we might not realize that they are fully aware that R is not how you spell are? Most style guides advise ditching the quotes when writing about the company.  In fact, most style guides recommend avoiding scare quotes altogether. The Chicago Manual of Style notes that they can “irritate readers if overused.” 

8. Yahoo!

Style guides also advise against using the exclamation point when writing about Yahoo, which, like a few other brands (Chips Ahoy! and Oh Henry! among them) include the exclamation point as an official part of the name. But not all publications follow that advice, which can lead to excitingly misleading headlines like “Yahoo! Investors Don’t Need to Worry About the IRS.”

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

12 Smart and Simple Kitchen Hacks

Merlas/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Merlas/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Use these quick and simple tricks to save time in the kitchen and make cooking easier—and safer.

1. Put a damp paper towel under your cutting board.

Take a paper towel, wet it, wring it out, and place it under your cutting board. This will keep the board from slipping all over your counter and allow you to cut more safely. You can put a damp paper towel under mixing bowls to keep them from sliding around, too.

2. Use cooking spray on your cheese grater.

A person using a cheese grater
Whichever way you have your grater positioned, a little cooking spray will make the job easier.
vinicef/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Before you start grating cheese, lay your grater down on its side, which keeps it from moving around and catches all of your cheese in once place. Then spray the surface with the cooking spray of your choice. The oil lubricates the surface and makes grating easier, especially for sticky cheeses.

3. Put felt glides under countertop appliances.

Not only will this save your countertops from getting scratched, but it also makes oft-used appliances easier to move when you need them.

4. Put a spoon on top of boiling pasta water.

A person holding a spoon with penne pasta over a pot of boiling water.
Foam be gone!
Andrii Pohranychnyi/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Does the foam of your starchy pasta water boil right up out of the pot? There’s a simple fix: Lay a metal or wooden spoon over the top of the pot. According to Gizmodo, this method works because the foam is “thermodynamically unstable," so when the foam’s bubbles reach the spoon, they burst, "breaking the layer of foam and sending all the bubbles collapsing down again.” If you opt for metal, though, make sure to use oven mitts to remove it from the top of the pot—it will be hot.

5. Keep dental floss handy.

You can use it to cut soft cheeses. “If the cheese is small, you can hold it in one hand while your other pulls the floss taught and does the cutting,” cheesemonger Nora Singley writes at The Kitchn. “For larger situations, place cheese on a surface, shimmy the floss beneath it, and simply slice up, holding both ends of the floss and crossing the two ends to complete the cut. Then repeat in equal intervals.”

You can also use non-minty dental floss to cut cookie dough, burritos, and hard-boiled eggs; slice melons and layers of cake; to tie things together; and get food unstuck from baking sheets.

6. Preheat your baking sheet.

A baking sheet in the oven.
Pre-heating your baking sheet saves time.
allanswart/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you’re making something like French fries or roasted veggies and your baking sheet is hot right from the get-go, you won’t have to go through the process of flipping your food later. Plus, both side of your food will be evenly browned and cook faster.

7. Save burnt pans with a dryer sheet.

Have you charred a pan so badly that the food you're trying to cook essentially became a part of the pan? Before you throw the pan out, try tossing in a dryer sheet, adding warm water, and letting it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Then wash with soap and water as usual, and the burned bits will come right off. Karen Lo at Food52 writes that “It feels like an absolute miracle—because it is. But, according to lifestyle reporter Anna De Souza, it’s also ‘likely the conditioning properties of the dryer sheet’ that do the trick.” If the burn is really bad, Lo says you can use two dryer sheets and hot water for severe cases if you’d like, and let it soak overnight—use your judgment.

8. Leave the root end on your onion when cutting it.

A person holding an onion by the root end and dicing an onion with a knife.
Leaving the root end of your onion on gives you something to hold onto while you're dicing.
andreygonchar/iStock via Getty Images Plus

This method is a game changer: It allows you to dice your onions safely and quickly. First, according to Real Simple, you should cut the top off of the onion; then lay the onion on the now-flat top and cut the vegetable in half through the root. Next, peel off the skin, being careful to leave the root attached. Take half of the onion and lay it, flat side down, on the cutting board. Holding on to the root end, slice the onion vertically in strips of your desired size, without cutting through to the root. Then slice in the opposite direction to dice. When you’re done, save the root end of the onion to make stock.

9. Use a Bundt pan when cutting corn.

When you’re cutting corn on a flat surface, the kernels tend to fly everywhere messily. But if you hold the ear of corn—pointy end down—on the center of a Bundt cake pan, then rotate as you cut, the kernels will fall neatly into the pan.

10. Put away your potato peeler and use this method instead.

A pot of boiling water with potatoes.
dashtik/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Peeling potatoes is time-consuming and wastes delicious potato. Instead, use this potato peeling hack from Foody Tube: Make a small cut into the skin around the circumference of the potato, then boil it. Once the potato is cooked, peel the skin off. It’s that easy.

11. Keep your plastic wrap in the fridge.

When it’s cold, plastic wrap is easier to handle and less likely to get stuck to itself.

If getting plastic wrap to stick is the issue, wet the rim of whatever you’re trying to cover before putting on the plastic. The water will help it cling to the surface.

12. Use magnets to hold down parchment paper.

Two rolls of parchment paper on a white surface.
Keep parchment paper from rolling up on your baking sheet with this clever trick.
Viktoriia Oleinichenko/iStock via Getty Images Plus

To keep parchment paper from rolling up on baking sheets—and therefore making it incredibly difficult actually to put anything on the sheet to cook—Le Cordon Bleu-educated pastry chef Amy Dieschbourg uses magnets to hold the paper in place. Once everything is on the paper, remove the magnets and get cooking.