Regular readers and Twitter followers know there’s nothing I love more than a good dad joke (親父ギャグ; oyaji gyagu or “old man joke” in Japanese). So naturally, when I saw an article dedicated to product names that are dad jokes, my heart skipped a beat.
Author and illustrator Keamura did a run-down on the site Hyena’s Club of some product names that are real groaners . And while there’s no better way to kill a joke than by explaining it, I’m gonna do it anyway. Below are my five favorite entries from Keamura’s list. At best, it may help some of you with your Japanese language skills. And, at worst, at least you’ll know why the rest of us are facepalming over these sad, sad examples.
(Hat tip to Mishima Kitan for this find!)
It’s a bottle of vinegar and a dad joke! The name of the product plays on the English loan word pikurusu for pickles and marries it with the kanji for vinegar, su (酢).
Keamura gave the product label extra props too. The label’s background depicts Mt. Fuji. But the diacritical mark on the Japanese katakana pi is positioned in such a way that it looks like the sun shining down on Fuji. A fitting label for a Japanese product indeed.
Jinja Eeru (神社エール)
Yep, it’s pronounced “ginger ale”. And it is, indeed, ginger ale. But once again, homophones strike! The kanji and katakana used to spell the product name mean “Support (エール) your Shinto shrine (神社).” (Eeru is derived from the English word “yell”.) The drink is the product of the Nagazawa sake brewery in Hidaka, Saitama Prefecture. And it’s a pretty literal name: Nagazawa created it to help support nearby Koma Jinja , which has been serving the spiritual needs of local residents since 1300 (!).
Keamura opines that ginger ale may be the perfect drink for a shrine, as its combination of so many ingredients makes it a fitting tribute to the “many and myriad gods” honored by Shinto. That’s certainly a different way to look at ginger ale!
In Japanese, taking something with you while walking around town with it is 持ち歩き (mochi-aruki). Family Mart decided to play off of that concept with their springy (もっちり; mocchiri) chocolate bread, Mocchi-Aruki.
Keamura, an admitted “scone person”, seems to like this one primarily because it’s a good product. “The triangle shape is easy to hold and eat.” I admit I haven’t tried this delicacy from Fami-Ma yet but it’s going to the top of my list.
Coconut Sable (ココ勝ッツサブレ; koko-kattsu sabure)
Dedicated readers may remember how we discussed one of the reasons why Kit Kats became popular in Japan. The candy name sounds a lot like the Japanese phrase きっと勝つ！ (kitto katsu) – “I’ve got this!” Hence it became popular among superstitious students preparing for college entrance exams.
Not to miss out on a good promotional gag, Nissin – the makers of such great innovations as Zero-Second Ramen – came out with a competing product that combines the word coconut (ココナツ; kokonatsu) with the word 勝つ (katsu), “to win.” The result: a delicious (?) coconut shortbread. The package doesn’t even hide its Kit Kat glory-stealing intentions: the upper right corner reads, “Best of luck, examinees!”
Keamura, who obviously never met a dad joke they couldn’t let go, warns examinees not to cheat to pass because then this product will become ココナッツサ無礼 – burei (無礼) meaning “rude”. Cue Rimshot.
I struggled to decide which of Keamura’s picks was the best of the worst. There were a few contenders, including Vege-Taberu and Risuketto. But, ultimately, I chose this gem: Mi-Croissant (マイクロワッサン; mai-kurowassan). It’s a great, groan-inducing gag joke because this portmanteau of micro and croissant can be read as a mini-croissant (which was the original point) or as “my croissant” – i.e., one’s own personal, bite-sized croissant. Like “Hi hungry, I’m dad”, this gem deserves to be stitched in fabric and hung in a museum. Like, you know…deep in the basement, next to the boiler room.
“There are many ways to say ‘small’ in English,” says Keamura. “They chose ‘micro’, because it probably couldn’t be a bad pun otherwise.” But the package was sort of hard to open, says the author, making this more like マイ苦労ワッサン.
Sigh. I’ll leave you non-Japanese speakers to figure last that one out for yourselves. I just don’t have the heart anymore.
What to Read Next
 【ありすぎて困る】ダジャレ商品名コレクション. https://hyenasclubs.org/?p=27190
 高麗神社. https://komajinja.or.jp/about/