Today’s threatened first day of Spring snowstorm did not materialize in my “neck of the woods.” We had to settle for a day of light rain. It did remind me of an event almost exactly a year ago. A little more than a week into last Spring, Palm Sunday dawned with the temperature low enough to leave the surface of the ground rock hard and leave a layer of ice on the water puddles left from several rain showers of the preceding week. On the way to church I noticed a number of robins “a bob bob bobbin’ along” in various yards looking for food. They had actually started showing up about two weeks previously. I have been told that there are plenty of robins around during the winter, but they spend most of their time in the wetlands that border the Chesapeake Bay.
Trying to be humorous I remarked to my sister that the robins must be looking for “Gorton’s Frozen Worms.” She offered a pity chuckle. I knew that “Gorton’s” was not the best choice, but I could not quickly think of the name of the more common frozen food companies. I guess “Gorton’s” came to mind since we had their frozen fish fillets a few days earlier. I mentioned that it might have been more humorous with the name of a different frozen food company. She suggested “Birdseye.” That was much better, I thought. Robin. Birdseye. Yeah, that would be much better. I wondered aloud how the company came by that name. To my surprise my sister knew. Turns out the company was started by a gentleman named Birdseye. He got the idea from seeing Eskimos (oops, Native Alaskans) leave newly caught fish outside during freezing weather to keep them fresher. All right, “Birdseye Frozen Worms.” That’s better. A little late, but better.
After church, while my sister was saying hello to each and every flower at the florist shop I had a chance to think about the earlier conversation. It provided more food (unfrozen) for thought. When I was working my way through school I dated a girl who found unending amusement in the fact that her dad had a friend whose name was Lipshitz. I wonder what might have happened if Mr. Lipshitz had spent some time in Alaska and founded his own food company. “Lipshitz Frozen Foods.” How does that sound? Would you buy “Lipshitz Frozen Peas?”
I can imagine a young Bob Newhart doing one of his comedy routines in which we hear only his side of the phone conversation. He’s a marketing consultant talking with Mr. Lipshitz about choosing a new name for his company rather than “Lipshitz Frozen Foods.” Bob starts off.
“But, don’t you see Mr. Lipshitz, you want people to find the name of your company attractive.” Pause.
“No, I think the words ‘frozen’ and ‘foods’ are just fine.” Pause.
“Yes, sir, I’m afraid so. It’s your name that’s the problem.” Pause.
“Sure, I understand that you feel you must have a personal connection with the customer. That’s always a good idea. Perhaps we could consider your first name; that’s very personal.” Pause.
“Ah, well, tell me, Hyman, what’s your middle name?” Pause.
“Okay, well, let’s consider ‘Aethelberht Frozen Foods’ a working title for now. We’ll keep thinking about it. Moving on to other considerations…”
Maybe that’s a clue to the origin of the “Jolly Green Giant.”