CHICAGO (CBS) — Kraft announced earlier this week that its new international snack food spinoff will be known as Mondelez – an invented word that is supposed to evoke the image of a “delicious world.”
But a published report points out that the new name, pronounced “mohn-da-LEEZ,” will sound smutty for those who speak Russian.
Mondeleez is a combination of the word “monde,” which is French for “world,” while “delez,” is described by Kraft as “a fanciful expression of ‘delicious.’”
Crain’s Chicago Business reported Thursday morning that a reader had tipped them off that the new company name sounds like a Russian term for an oral sex act.
Crain’s checked with some experts, who confirmed that the first two syllables of “Mondelez” evoke the Russian word “manda” – a crude term for the female genitalia. The “-leez” syllable at the end roughly translates into the sex act the reader mentioned, Crain’s reported.
The potential issue with the new name comes as Kraft has been growing its presence in Russia, focusing in particular on products for women, Crain’s reported.
But whether the new name will be a big deal in Russia is not clear, since the only other story of a translation adversely affecting sales seems to be false.
The Crain’s report recalled a story about how the Chevrolet Nova sold poorly in Latin America because its name translates into “no go” in Spanish, but Snopes.com pointed out long ago that this story about the Nova is a myth. The Nova actually sold well in Mexico and Venezuela, according to Snopes, which adds that the difference between “no va” and “Nova” to a Spanish speaker would be as obvious as the distinction between “no table” and “notable” to an English speaker.
As for Mondelez, an expert told Crain’s that the name is “mostly harmless.”
Northfield-based Kraft is the second largest company, with annual revenues of $49 billion. Its brands include Oreo cookies, Trident gum, Maxwell House coffee, and Kraft cheeses.
The announcement of plans to split Kraft into two companies came last August. Mondelez, a worldwide snack food operation, will be based in Deerfield.
Kraft Foods Group Inc., which will operate as a North American grocery company, will remain at its current headquarters at Willow and Waukegan roads in Northfield, Crain’s reported.
Kraft has steadily built up its snacks business over the years, helped in part by the acquisitions of LU biscuit from Danone and Cadbury PLC. The food maker said in August that Mondelez would include the current Kraft Foods Europe and developing markets units and the North American snacks and confectionery businesses.