There are a lot of massive food brands in America whose names I’m sure I mangle on a regular basis. For example, I always mess up “LaCroix” (which I now just call “La Crotch” for the giggles, and everyone always knows what drink I’m referring to). Or there are the brand names I hear pronounced differently depending on who’s speaking, like “Reese’s” (ree-suz vs. ree-seez), “Ghirardelli” (soft G vs. hard G), and “Fage” (okay, you really do have to pronounce that one fah-yeh). Mental Floss recently took a look at the most commonly mispronounced brand names, and the lone food product on the list was not one I was expecting.
Which brand names do we mispronounce the most?
The list cited by Mental Floss is from Business Name Generator, a site that uses AI to develop brand identity assets. The list analyzed Google search results and combed through various pronunciation queries to find the brands that people are least sure how to say correctly. The top results are a mixed bag of the usual suspects and some unexpected curveballs.
The top five mispronounced brand names are as follows, along with the list’s phonetic key for how to pronounce them:
- Porsche (Porsh-aa, not just porsh)
- Nike (Nigh-key—I thought we all knew this one!)
- Hermès (Air-mez)
- Louis Vuitton (Loo-ee we-taahn)
- Hyundai (Hun-day)
It makes sense that a number of the top most confusing brands are luxury designer labels; others in the top 20 include Bvlgari, Yves Saint Laurent, and Tag Heuer. These European companies are not only proper names in different languages, but they’re also brands that the average American probably doesn’t come into contact with all that often.
Grocery brands, on the other hand, are ones we see nearly every day. So it’s doubly surprising that farther down the list of the top 20 mispronounced brands, in 15th place, is Nutella. Yes, Nutella. The chocolate hazelnut spread.
I have indeed heard plenty of people mess this one up; they tend to say “nuh-tell-uh” (emphasizing the “nut”) instead of its proper pronunciation, “new-tell-uh.” I had previously chalked it up as a Midwestern quirk, one that’s roughly on par with, say, the pronunciation of Athens, Illinois. I was somewhat relieved to discover that people nationwide are quietly Googling Nutella to make sure they’re saying it right. Who knew this spread was causing us all so much uncertainty?
As long as I get the gist of what you’re saying, I’m fine with however you pronounce something—or at least, I won’t make a big show of correcting you. You should hear how people mangle the anglicized pronunciation of some Korean dishes. It used to raise my hackles, but then I realized just how badly I myself must be fucking up words in other languages, so now it doesn’t bother me as much. Are there any brand names you struggle to pronounce?