Reviewer: NZ Crown Mines
Title: Famous Brand Names & Their Origins
Author: Kathy Martin
Total No. of Pages: 178
Rating Scale (1: very poor; 10: excellent): 9½
When encountering familiar brands on the High Street or in the supermarket, who hasn’t fleetingly wondered where they came from and/or why they can sometimes have such quaint names? This reviewer certainly has; then promptly purchased something else. Fortunately however, the author of this volume did something about her enquiry and the result is a fascinating and endearing little work.
This is a well-written, slightly idiosyncratic and thoroughly delightful book. That the author knows and loves her subject is very evident. She states that she wrote this volume ‘…To serve as a guide for those wishing to time travel … into the past to look at some of the most popular brands found in everyday life – tracing their origins…development and their place in society today’. It has succeeded well. For ease of access the book has been divided into two sections; Part I Food and Drink and Part II House and Home. According to the author ‘In the first you will find chapters covering edible brands. In House and Home … you will find everything from toys and travel guides to Sellotape and supermarkets. To be included within this work, three criteria have been applied. These are that the products ‘… Must be over fifty years old; remain in production today  [and] possess widespread consumer appeal’. The list of entries that has resulted is large and wide-ranging. Unfortunately some names, although well-known and loved, have now become extinct. ‘The author recognises this and notes that ‘In order to include at least a few of these ‘fallen’, each chapter has a ‘gone but not forgotten’ section. Similarly brief ‘honourable mentions’ have been given to a number of popular brands that have not yet reached their half-century and therefore fail to qualify for full inclusion’.
The volume consists of 10 Chapters. These are preceded by an Introduction which provides background to the subject material and, as already stated, details the criteria used to determine if a product should be included. A Sources section placed at the back of the book acts as a Bibliography. Where appropriate, it includes a list of product websites for brands appearing within the book. An Acknowledgements section is used to thank those personally-involved in the preparation of this work, while an Index completes the volume.
By its nature, this book is encyclopaedic, and although it can be completely read in one sitting (as this reviewer did), it is more a ‘dipping’ book to be consulted should one be interested in learning more about a specific brand or product.
On that basis, it is likely to have wide appeal, and be of use to both Historians and Joe and Jane Public. The international ubiquity of the brands the work contains (especially in countries of the British Commonwealth), also means that it is likely to have a large audience outside the British Isles. The information it contains may also give it ‘Trusted source’ status at Pub Quiz Nights and in Trivial-Pursuit-type contests.
On a rating scale where 1`: very poor and 10 is excellent, this reviewer gives it 9½; a mark that he believes is well-deserved.
nzcrownmines is also available for book reviewing: Contact: nzcrownmines@