Wait. Was that English? Part 2

It’s been 4 years since I wrote the first edition of a post about the seemingly Thai words that weren’t Thai.

The ah-ha moments continue this time with the brands we THINK we know and love.

A lot of those seemingly Thai words and brand names I grew up are actually English. We pronounced them with our own flavor and absorbed them into our culture so well that no one could hear the original words in them any more.

Much like English-speaking folks would reach for Kleenex, not facial tissue, or Band-Aid, not adhesive bandages, Thai people ask for Breed or Fabb instead of Pong Sak Fok, literally translated to “washing powder”, proper term for laundry detergent.

It recently dawned on me when I actually saw the English packaging of the detergent in the grocery store that Breed is actually Breeze and Fabb is actually Fab…as in Fabulous.


But wait, there’s more!

We have always reached for Sun Lai to wash our dishes and Sun Siw/Seel for our hair. At least we got the “sun” part right but it’s actually Sunlight and Sunsilk.

My grandmother and later on my mom used to reach for this thing called Wig Wapoh-rub for us kids when we had the sniffles. The “Wig” part I was sure it was a brand, but I had always asked myself what the hell is a “Wapoh-rub”.

So when I finally see Vick’s VapoRub in English, everything made sense again.

Finally, the big bombshell.

When I was growing up, we all knew the toothpaste as Dah KEE with a guy smiling on the tube. Growing up with Japanese manga printed in black and white, we didn’t quite get it that the face on the toothpaste tube actually was a smiling black face in top hat was to go with Darky/Darkie toothpaste.

Obviously, in the mid 80s, the name was changed to Darlie and the face is now of a shaded white dude in top hat. (Wikipedia has the history here.)

Now I didn’t quite get the whole Darky/Darlie thing back then until I saw an old, faded bill posted on one of the roadside general store after a few years in U.S. college.

My thought: Ah-ha! Oh, wait. Oh my god. That was HORRIBLE!

I’m sure there will be more of those brands to jump out at me when I look at more stuff next time I come home.

Any of you can think of anything else?

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