Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Big Beef over One Little Name

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Big Beef over One Little Name

Article excerpt

Mary Blair's name is as good and Scottish as Robert the Bruce's or Flora MacDonald's. But it is not, as it happens, the personal tag of this redoubtable Scots lady that has brought her 15 minutes - or more accurately three or four weeks (to date) - of fame.

What has done this is the name she has chosen for her sandwich shop.

Her establishment might have been known only among the hungry citizenry of the English town of Milton Keynes, if it had not been for her innocent decision to call it "McMunchies." But this catchy title, signaling her Scottishness as well as the toothsomeness of her sandwiches, has now received wider publicity than she could possibly have imagined in her wildest dreams. To me, "McMunchies" suggests cat kibble, but Mary Blair has described to me over the phone the kind of fare in which she specializes. Not only does it not feature feline nourishment, it also, more significantly, does not include hamburgers, chicken "nuggets," or french fries. Several weeks ago, as she affirms in matter-of-fact Scottish gutterals, she received a letter in the post. "It said," she says, "that if I hadn't changed the name of my shop within 14 days, they were going to take legal action." The communication was from the worldwide hamburger people, McDonald's. Why this company would flatter itself into thinking that anyone wanted to copy or approximate its name to sell her sandwiches is hard to guess. But apparently this ubiquitous chain believes it has exclusive rights to the prefix "Mc." Naturally, this high-handed threat has proved cheerisome grist to the media mill, ever an eager advocate of the underdog and champion of the little man (or woman) duressed by some thundersome monopolistic giant. Not that Mary Blair (who has more than a streak of The Wallace about her, Braveheart-wise) really needs the media's assistance in the matter. Her response is direct and unintimidated. "I'm not changing it," she says. McMunchies it is, and McMunchies it will remain. You can tell she means it. Enter Ronald McDonald. According to an unattributed wire story reprinted in Glasgow's daily paper, The Herald, this gentleman is a retired schoolteacher living in Aberdeen. And it is he who has (I merely quote) "threatened to take McDonald's to court" because "the use of the name Ronald McDonald for the clown used by the company to entertain children {is} an insult to the Scottish clan system." ONE can only speculate that this clownish purloining of his fine traditional Scottish name has mattered to the real Ronald for more than a few years. The company's clown has, after all, been around since the 1960s and, frankly, if I had been called Ronald McDonald (or Groucho Marx, for that matter), I think I might have chosen a profession other than schoolteacher - or changed my name. …

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