Clever Ice Cream Names at Cold Stone Creamery

10 Aug 2007

Cold Stone Creamery Logo (with Chinese)

Ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery has opened a restaurant in the Cloud Nine (龙之梦) shopping mall in Shanghai’s Zhongshan Park. Priced well below Häagen-Dazs but still not cheap, the ice cream is passable. Still, I was most impressed with some of the names of the ice cream dishes:

1. Berry Berry Berry Good: 非常莓好
This name substitutes the (“beautiful”) in 美好 (“wonderful”) for the (“berry”) in 草莓 (“strawberry”). The result is a word that sounds exactly the same, but makes a berry pun.

2. Mint Mint Chocolate Chip: 蜜蜜巧巧
Partial transliterations of “mint” and “chocolate” still manage to carry the idea of “chocolate” in a cute-sounding name. The is more likely to be mistaken to mean “honey” (蜂蜜) than to be understood as “mint” (薄荷) though.

3. Our Strawberry Blonde: 草莓美莓
Once again, we have the pun, but this time the word 美莓 is substituting for the word 妹妹, which means “little sister,” but can mean “young woman.” 美莓 has different tones (3-2) than 妹妹 (4-5), but the tones on 美莓 mimic the non-standard Taiwanese pronunciation of the word 妹妹, which sounds very cute to mainlanders.

4. Monkey Bites: 吱吱蕉蕉
This name is a play on the onomatopoeia 吱吱喳喳, the sound of noisy birds (or possibly monkeys?). The character which replaces the two characters is of 香蕉, “banana”–the monkey connection.

If you want to take a look at all the names yourself, I have scanned the menu and put it online (front, back). The ones above are the best ones, though. A lot of the other ones aren’t creative at all.

I find Cold Stone Creamery’s entry into the Chinese market somewhat interesting because it’s clear that the company is importing and translating everything rather than localizing its offerings. It’s hard to even find the Chinese name on the menu, which doesn’t appear on the front, and is only in one place. It’s “酷圣石冰淇淋“. (“cool”) and (“stone”) seem like straightforward enough choices, but I’m not sure what’s up with the (“holy”)? 冰淇淋 is just “ice cream.”

Cold Stone Creamery has a Chinese website, but it gives me an interesting “The page must be viewed over a secure channel” error.

Update: the link doesn’t work if you leave off the WWW. Thanks, Micah.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Don’t they have Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in China? Are their names only clever in English? They must have a clever Chinese translator. Maybe they hired a linguist?     

  2. Those are some pretty sweet names =)

  3. u can buy some imported ben and jerrys at city shop i think..

    do they sing like the one in people squere? if they do.. it must be annoying cuz this store is kinda small..

  4. The “Our Strawberry Blonde: 草莓美莓” could also be a play on 美眉, which would have the same tones.

  5. John, please forward your notes to upper management at Cold Stone Creamery. This type of creative work is ideally completed by the “in the know” American natives with a stout background in Chinese – that’d be you, John.

  6. Not sure how a native speaker would read it, but my first reaction when seeing 蜜蜜巧巧 was to think of “巧言蜜语” (“cunning speech and honeyed words”) – something perhaps a bit less appealing than ‘mint chocolate chip.’ (Though then again, they are operating in Shanghai…)

  7. In Taiwan, 妹妹 is mei3mei1. Close enough to mei2mei3?

  8. I remember the first time I went in to one in the states they asked if I had ever been there before. When I said “No, actually”, something terrible happened. They all started singing at me. Like AT me. I just turned around and walked out.

    (I did put up with it at the one in Cloud Nine…mmmm….)

  9. Well, just to be clear: the Taiwan pronunciation of 妹妹 is not actually měiméi unless you are speaking to a child. That’s why Mainlanders find it so ‘cute’, because it is baby talk. They do this for many words, changing them all to third-second.

  10. Tim P,

    I’ve never seen Ben & Jerry’s here.

  11. Prince Roy,

    Thanks for the clarification.

  12. About the berry berry berry good:

    Expect the trick of “莓” and “美“, the translation is meaningful to Chinese because: “berry berry berry good” sounds like “very very very good” which means exactly ”非常非常非常好“, then the meaning of berry is added and the result turns into “非常非常非常美(莓)好”

    p.s., if you happen to know some Japanese, Japanese people pronounce “very” exactly as “beri”. I wonder whether the menu maker knew that already.

  13. A lot got lost in the translation for “Oh Fudge.” Also, if anything is “圣,” it should be the sinless ice cream.

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