Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Hidden Knowledge

Knowledge is hidden around us. All you need do is scratch the surface to learn something cool.

For example, most people know that Persian rugs don't come from Persia -- since "Persia" doesn't exist any more. Persia is an old name for what is now Iran. Sellers believe consumers are less likely to buy rugs from "Iran" than fanciful Persia.

Shopping for cinnamon I just learned there are many countries that produce the spice: e.g., China, Vietnam, et al. Highest quality cinnamon is labeled "Ceylon cinnamon". Again, this identification is fictitious and designed purely for marketing. There is no country named Ceylon today. So where did the name come from?

The republic of Sri Lanka was formed in 1972. Before then, from 1948 to 1972 the place was called Ceylon. Premium cinnamon sold today as "Ceylon cinnamon" is actually from Sri Lanka. Sellers count on you reacting more positively to "Ceylon" than the true country of origin.

Similarly, cinnamon from Vietnam is now marketed as "Saigon cinnamon" to steer away from the name of a country we famously fought a war against.  "Saigon", a former city in Vietnam, is no longer called that: its real name since 1976 is "Ho Chi Minh City". Can you guess why sellers didn't choose that for their product?  :)


  1. I did know that's where Ceylon was as we did a project called 'The History of Tea' when I was 10 at school! It's intriguing the way they use older or newer names!

  2. Marketing! Marketing Marketing!

    I didn't know that about Ceylon, although I had always heard it in reference to tea.

    Though speaking of Persia, there are definitely people out there who identify strongly with being Persian! My college maths professor had a very heavy accent and told us every class about being Persian, how much he loved coffee, and American Starbucks. Lol!

  3. Interesting! I was always curious to know where Persia was - I see it a lot in makeup history, particularly in reference to eyeliner (kohl).

  4. It doesn't surprise me that old or fictional names are used for products. In marketing, it's common to refrain from any naming that might affect the sales badly. There are usually whole departments for that. It's understandable that when products are concerned, the commercial aspect has to come first.

    1. Yup. That makes sense but is invisible to most consumers.