Durex is not a condom


Durex tape, a Brazilian classic

Once the consul of India told me that, when he first arrived in São Paulo, he was impressed by the popularity of Brahma, the Hindu god. It was everywhere – in outdoors, restaurants, supermarkets. People would ask him if he liked Brahma. Till he realized what it was about – just a beer brand whose name is also used to refer to any beer. Vicente Matheus, former president of Corinthians soccer team, known for his folkloric comments once thanked Antártica (another beer producer) for the brahminhas the industry offered the club to celebrate its victory.

Brahma’s example is not isolated. In Brazil, several products are named after popular commercial brands. A few days ago, Adam, from Eyes on Brazil blog, published the fun post Keep Calm and Stay Brazilian, where he describes an episode where he couldn’t remember how to ask for razor blades – gilete, said the supermarket cashier, after he sweated doing mimics and figuring possible names.

Now, ask an elder lady leaving the church on Sunday if she has some durex. Don’t worry, she won’t faint or call the cops. In many countries, this is a famous condom brand, but not in Brazil, where it is synonym of adhesive tape.

You could name many others:

  • modess – sanitary pads (a brand that, I understand, was abandoned by Johnson & Johnson’s)
  • xerox – photocopy
  • insulfilm – the film for car windshield
  • leite moça – condensed milk
  • nescau or toddy – chocolate milk
  • bombril – steel sponge
  • cândida – bleach (and also a nasty venereal disease)
  • maizena – corn flour
  • catupiry – a type of cheese used in pizzas and in  fried delicacies filling
  • knorr – industrialized broth
  • pó royal – baking powder
  • danone or danoninho – yogurt
  • bic – pen
  • miojo – instant lamen
  • lambreta – scooter
  • cotonete – cotton swab…

Do you remember others?



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