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Online Magazine Searches For The Worst Store Name Puns


There is a subset of puns - businesses that name themselves based on a pun. You know, the kind of thing you see on a storefront sign that makes you groan or maybe laugh, depending on your mood.


So, for example, I've been living in East London for the last couple years in the neighborhood where actually Jack the Ripper operated, and there is a hair salon near my apartment called Jack The Clipper.

CORNISH: That's a very good one. Another good one is an e-cigarette emporium named Darth Vapor.

SHAPIRO: You know, if there were only a map of businesses with names like this so you could seek them out or maybe steer clear of them.

CORNISH: Well, Ari, it's happening.


CORNISH: Reyhan Harmanci is on the case. She's with the online magazine Atlas Obscura, and she's asking for you or anyone to submit your favorite punny business names. Reyhan Harmanci, welcome to the show.

REYHAN HARMANCI: Thank you, guys.

CORNISH: First, tell us how this idea came about.

HARMANCI: Well, it's been a source of much discussion in Atlas Obscura group chat room, and being a place called Atlas Obscura, we traffic in a lot of maps. So this has been a pet project for the last few months.

CORNISH: It's like lunchroom chatter, basically, you guys going back and forth about maybe business names you've seen that you thought, oh, that's a groaner.

HARMANCI: Yeah. And one of the reasons why we decided to it is when we would bring it up to other people, their response was like, oh, man, there was a place in my hometown or I just drove by a weird nail salon. It felt like it was ripe for some mapping.

SHAPIRO: What kind of trends are you seeing with the submissions you've gotten so far?

HARMANCI: Well, it's funny you mentioned a hair salon in London. I just looked today. We have had already over 600 submissions, and there's at least 10 different Curl Up And Dyes.

CORNISH: (Laughter).

SHAPIRO: Oh, D-Y-E, Curl Up And Dye.

HARMANCI: Yes, D-Y-E, yeah. So we're seeing - I mean, I think the bulk have been categorized as restaurants - a lot of Thai restaurants in there. Washington, D.C., is extremely well represented. I think it's the city with the most submissions thus far.

SHAPIRO: Here in D.C., we have a Bow Tie. We have a Titanic.

HARMANCI: Yes, yes.

CORNISH: Oh, Titanic, yeah, I never thought about that.

HARMANCI: Yes. Other places have a Thaiphoon, appeThaizing. For Vietnamese restaurants, there's also a lot of submissions involving pho.

SHAPIRO: P-H-O - the Vietnamese soup.

HARMANCI: Yes, exactly, the soup. Beverly Hills apparently has a 9021Pho.


CORNISH: Very nice.

SHAPIRO: Reyhan Harmanci, how do you anticipate people using this map? Are they going to seek these places out or are they going to avoid them as best they can?

HARMANCI: I will leave that to the discretion of the reader. I think that puns - it's a funny thing. It's not like a ha ha thing. It's kind of like a gut feeling of, like, oof.


SHAPIRO: Can you distinguish between a great pun and a terrible pun, or are they actually the same thing?

HARMANCI: I think they're actually the same thing.

CORNISH: Really?

HARMANCI: Yes. I think that the feeling you get from a great pun and a terrible pun is quite similar.

CORNISH: (Laughter).

SHAPIRO: I saw a falafel shop called Pita Pan.


SHAPIRO: Isn't that good?

CORNISH: I see how you're...

SHAPIRO: Pita Pan.

CORNISH: You're amused. I'm appalled. You're right. It's kind of like two sides of the same coin.

SHAPIRO: Two halves of the same coin.


CORNISH: Reyhan Harmanci - she's from the online magazine Atlas Obscura. She's partnering with the news aggregator Digg to create an interactive map of American businesses with pun-based names. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

HARMANCI: Thank you guys so much.

CORNISH: And for people who still want to sneak in some of their top choices, how can they submit to the map?

HARMANCI: You can go to Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.