What's In a Name
What’s In A Name? is a quirky, insightful and often irreverent look at the thing we use most and we most take for granted: the Name. This 13-part series is an entertaining romp through history and the names we find along the way – from beer and hockey teams, to perfume and chocolate bars, cars and cocktails. Every episode begins with an individual who needs to name a product: an electric car he’s designed, a chocolate bar she’s created, a baby about to be born. Through this individual, we share their passion for finding a new name. Our main character is helped along the way by experts and celebrities. Actor George Wendt (aka Norm from Cheers) offers tips on naming beer. Wrestling legend Brett Hart gives advice on punchy names in the ring. And Randy Bachman gives a young band tips on finding a name that rocks. We look at which names have worked throughout history, which haven’t, and why it matters. What’s in a Name? Everything.
S01:E01 - Hockey
The players on the Toronto Women’s Hockey Team are as gutsy, skilled and competitive as any of their male counterparts. But what they really need is to score is a winning name. With goaltender Sami Jo Small as our guide, we stickhandle our way through the history of team names – from the fierce (Vancouver Amazons) to the tame (Prairie Lillies) to the really bad idea (The Fernie Swastikas?). Sami Jo gets no-nonsense advice from one of the most powerful figures in men’s hockey, Brian Burke, boss of the Toronto Maple Leafs. And the Rt. Honourable Adrienne Clarkson - for whom the women’s Clarkson Cup was named - offers witty insights into women, hockey and why the two were meant to come together. She shoots, she scores! The trick is to find just the right name that will do these gals proud.
S01:E02 - Beer
John Graham runs a microbrewery and is launching a brand new craft beer. It has all the right ingredients except one: a name. John looks to the past for inspiration, tapping into the history of beer names to land just the right one for his frothy new brew. He gets some help from beer connoisseurs like actor George Wendt (Norm from the TV show Cheers) and the ever-so-sophisticated Trailer Park Boys. This episode takes a romp through the history of beer by focusing on their names – from the successful (Labatt’s Blue) to the quirky (Hoptical Illusion) to the well, not so appetizing (The Smiling Dickhead?) If you like beer – and even if you don’t – you can’t resist this rollicking story behind the naming of beer: what worked, what didn’t, and why it matters.
S01:E03 - Car
Steve Dallas has spent six years and two million dollars building an electric car. It’s lean and green… but is nothing without a name. Steve puts the pedal to history for inspiration, steering his way around decades of car names to help choose just the right one for his creation. For help he turns to marketing gurus and automotive experts, and gets strapped in with racing legend Paul Tracy. This episode speeds through automotive history from the colourful perspective of their names – from the classics (Thunderbird) to the lemons (Edsel) to the lost in translation (Nova, which means does not go in Spanish!). Buckle up for a fun and bumpy ride into car history, and learn how some of our favorite four wheelers came to own – or disown—their famous names.
S01:E04 - Baby
Thanh and Mark are about to have a baby. They’ve got the usual pre-parenting jitters – with one added anxiety: they can’t agree on a name for the baby. With a little help from history, they toss around names that have triumphed - and failed - in the past. From the biblical (Nathaniel) to the royal (Victoria), pop culture successes (Elvis) to failures (Moon Unit Zappa?) we journey through the ages and discover that our names not only represent who we are, but also reflect the time and place we were born. We even get entertaining tips from construction workers on hot girl names (sorry Gertrude!), and explore whether the letters in our names influence how others perceive us. Intrigued yet? Wait until you find out what they named the baby!
S01:E05 - Chocolate
Bryana Ganong’s family has been in the chocolate business for almost 140 years. Now she’s created a new confection that’s sugary sweet, delightfully delicious—and nameless. With thousands of chocolate bars out there vying for the public’s attention, Bryana dips into history to see what names have worked in the past, seeking the magic formula that will make mouths water today. She’s helped along the way by sweet tooth experts, chocolate covered spa-goers, and even the Easter Bunny. The rich history of chocolate includes names that have endured (Snickers), names that have evoked (Oral Pleasure), and names that, let’s just say, seemed like a good idea at the time (Chicken Dinner?). For those who crave chocolate bars – and who doesn’t? - treat yourself to the story behind their names through the years.
S01:E06 - Cocktail
Dave Mitton (“Mitty” to his clients) isn’t your average bartender : he doesn’t just pour drinks, he creates them. He’s invented a brand new scotch cocktail that needs a name, or it could end up on the rocks (and not in a good way). With the help of legendary mixologist Dale de Gross (from New York’s famous Rainbow Room), we revisit the libations of the past to help Mitty choose a name that rolls off the tongue. From the classic (Martini, Manhattan) to the raunchy (Wallbanger, Gorilla Fart) we are reminded that the cocktail is a reflection of history. The Prohibition brought us sweet concoctions to mask the screech, and the Cold War brought us drier martinis to allay the fears. History and cocktails have gone hand in hand, or shall we say, hand to mouth? Bottoms up.
S01:E07 - Restaurant
World renowned chef Susur Lee has opened three restaurants in Toronto over the years, and now he’s ready to cook up more culinary delights with his fourth. The new place features everything you’d expect from a kitchen magician—except a name. Lee stirs the past to see what’s worked - and what hasn’t - in the centuries old tradition of naming restaurants. With help from famous foodies and celebrity gourmands like Kevin Brauch (The Thirsty Traveller), Christine Cushing (Fearless in the Kitchen), and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, Susur samples restaurant names from the ages that have been savoured (The Savoy Grill), gone sour (Sambo’s,) or been roasted for their silliness (Fu King. Seriously…) Tuck into this story of how restaurant names have marinated through history and why they did – or didn’t - pass the taste test.
S01:E08 - Rockband
We meet a Toronto rock band that is trying to make a name for itself – quite literally. They already have a name - Calling Wendy - but no one’s called, so with a brand new sound, they need a catchy name to match. To help them choose a name that rocks, they look to the past: From the wildly successful (The Beatles) to the quirky (Bare Naked Ladies) to the completely out there (Flock of Seagulls?) rock band names have helped establish a band’s identity. Our musicians get advice from legendary musician Randy Bachman (The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive,) Mike Turner (formerly of Our Lady Peace) and entertainment lawyer Zach Werner, who knows a thing or two about what works in the music biz. Rock and roll may claim to be counter- culture but let’s face it, every band wants a name that will get them fame.
S01:E09 - Perfume
Barb Stegemann is a perfumer with an ambitious new product to launch: a fragrance made with rose petals from Afghanistan. She needs a name that both salutes that country’s people and honours Canada’s war effort there. To find it, she follows the scent of perfume names throughout history. Advice comes from such business notables as Brett Wilson (Dragon’s Den) Karen Khouri (Senior VP, Estee Lauder) and Rojer Dove (House of Geurlain). This episode not only chronicles perfume names through the years but how they’ve reflected the culture brilliantly (Tabac Blonde), provocatively (Pussy Deluxe) or in ways we’re still not sure of (Mon Fluide?). Those who swoon for sweet perfume, and even those who hold their noses, will be intoxicated by the story of fragrance names through time.
S01:E10 - Wrestler
Greg Longo is known in the Indy wrestling world as Anthony Fiasco. But the name – and the good guy image – just isn’t cutting it anymore. Greg is morphing into more of a bad-boy character and needs a name to match. With the help of legendary wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Brett Hart, Greg finds inspiration from previous stars of the ring – with names like Brutus and The Vampire. The challenge is, in the wrestling world, you’re not just naming a wrestler, you’re naming a persona and all that comes with it. Tough, catchy, menacing...that’s what makes a great wrestling name today. A little dramatic flair doesn’t hurt either.
S01:E11 - Toy
Linda Stortz is a toy distributor with an exciting new product guaranteed to light up the world of play — if she could only find a name for it. She bounces around the history of toy names in order to find the perfect choice for her hockey-themed sensation. Grownup experts lend her a hand -- from toy historians, to marketing gurus, to the toughest judges of all, kids! (under the coaching of former Toronto Maple Leaf great Rick Vaive.) This episode takes us on a journey through the playroom of history -- from the hugely popular (Lego) to the long forgotten (The Test Driver Game at the Chrysler Proving Grounds) to the frankly disturbing (Daddy Saddle). If childhood games still excite you, then this is the must-have, nag-your-parents episode of the season. What’s in a name? For a kid, pretty much everything.
S01:E12 - Train
Joanne Reynolds is a passionate about trains. She’s a volunteer at the Kettle Valley Railway, where the star attraction is a 100 year old, working steam locomotive that boasts power and prestige - but that lacks a name. Joanne rides the rails into the history of train names, seeking inspiration on what to call the majestic iron horse in her care. Helping to keep her on track are train experts and aficionados like Rick Green (History Bites) and songwriter Matt Mays, charged with penning a fitting ditty for the engine once folks decide what to call it. This half hour is a train journey like no other – through history’s long tunnel of names, from the nation-uniting (The Canadian) to the glamour inviting (The Orient Express) to the what were they smoking? (The Flying Hamburger). If trains are your thing, you’ll want to be all aboard for this fascinating glimpse into the ultimate destination: how trains arrived at their names.
S01:E13 - Rover
Colonel Chris Hadfield gained international recognition as the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space. Now he and the Canadian Space Agency have a new rover that’s ready to explore Mars - but it’s not going anywhere until it has a name. Chris blasts off into the history of space vessels in order to find a name that will impress earthlings and extraterrestrials alike. Along the way he receives advice from celestial sages like Bob McDonald (CBC’s Quirks and Quarks) and celebrated science-fiction writer Robert Sawyer. This episode launches into history of space exploration by zeroing in on how vessels have been named, from the star struck (Enterprise) to the inspiring (Odyssey) to the uh, somewhat less than inspiring (BS). Launch into the outer reaches of space to explore a galaxy of fascinating names and learn how they came into being.
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