Even manicure mavens probably don’t know the history of OPI. Originally called Odontorium Products Inc., OPI was a small dental supply company when it was purchased in 1981. After realizing that the dental acrylics created to make fake teeth were super popular—but illegally used—for making fake nails, the owners had a nail-friendly acrylic version developed, according to CNN. They then closed the dental side of the business to focus entirely on nail products and abbreviated the name to OPI. OPI makes 55 million bottles of nail polish a year.
Ingvar Kamprad, a 17-year-old Swede, founded the company in 1943 with money his father gave him for doing well in school. The teenage retail titan-to-be formed the name of his company—which originally sold pens, wallets, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewelry, and nylon stockings at reduced prices—from his initials (I.K.), plus the first letters of Elmtaryd (E) and Agunnaryd (A), the farm and village where he grew up. As for those crazy product names, turns out they follow a system. According to an article in the Guardian, because Kamprad is dyslexic, he found that naming products with proper names and words made them easier to identify. Sofas, coffee tables, bookshelves, media storage, and doorknobs are named after places in Sweden (Klippan, Malmö); beds, wardrobes, and hall furniture after places in Norway; carpets after places in Denmark, and dining tables and chairs after places in Finland. Bookcases are mainly occupations (Bonde, peasant farmer; Styrman, helmsman). Bathroom stuff is named after lakes and rivers. Check out how these other iconic stores got their names!
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Invented in 1893 by drugstore owner Caleb Davis Bradham, the beverage—made from a mix of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other natural ingredients—was originally called “Brad’s Drink,” according to the company website. But because Bradham saw the drink less as a refreshment and more as a healthy cola that could aid in digestion, he renamed it five years later, using the word “dyspepsia,” which means indigestion, as its root.