Duluth Brand Parodies: Derogatory Wordplay in Dull-youth

It probably happens everywhere just as much as it happens in Duluth. Someone intentionally replaces the name of a well-known person, place or thing with a similar sounding word or words, almost always in a belittling way, and other people think it’s funny and repeat it.

There should be a list of those, right? Well, here it is.

Dull-youth – Duluth
Inferior – Superior
Siberior – Superior
Two Hardboards – Two Harbors
Norse Whore Theatre – NorShor Theatre
Cowhart Hall – Crownhart Hall at UW-Superior
Satan’s Residence – St. Ann’s Residence
Fondle-youth Casino – Fond-du-Luth Casino
Wanker Bar – Anchor Bar
Android Hotel – Androy Hotel
The Qweef – Reef Bar
Seedy Lounge – Cedar Lounge
Krawl-on-Out – Kom-on-Inn
Ski Slut – Ski Hut (“Pizza Slut” for Pizza Hut is more common, but not specifically local)
Cakeside – Lakeside
West to Lose – West Duluth
Dumbfeld – Denfeld High School
Ordeal Middle School – Ordean Middle School

And below are a few that refer to local operations that no longer exist.

Electric Penis – Electric Fetus
Center for Personal Fatness – Center for Personal Fitness
The Clap Room – The Tap Room at Fitger’s
Phallus Bar – Palace Bar
The Limplifter – The Lamplighter (strip club now known as Lady Vi’s).
The Crappy – Capri Bar
The Debris – Capri Bar
Shoppers’ City – Shopper Shitty

These lists were largely built from an older list published on PDD in 2003. There were likely many suggestions that were added in the comments back then, but the platform that supported comments in the early days of blogging eventually folded and the comments were lost. So the list we have here is an effort to start over. If you’ve got a new one or an oldie not mentioned here, spout off in the comments.

Also, if you have any sense of what terminology could be used to describe this kind of twisting of nouns, please share. They don’t really seem to be puns or alliterations or malapropisms or catachreses exactly, but they are kind of like those things. The term we have most recently landed on, based on initial comments, is “brand parody.”

12 Comments

Tony D.

about 1 month ago

How about "parody"? "An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect."

Paul Lundgren

about 1 month ago

"Parody" seems accurate, and yet not quite right. There should be a word for this specific type of parody. Maybe it's up to us to invent that word.

Tony D.

about 1 month ago

There is a word, or at least a phrase: Brand Parody or Trademark parody (and I would consider a community's name its "brand"). "Trademark parodies are a form of humorous or satirical commentary that uses a well-known trademark in a playful or critical manner. But typically, the target of that humor or satire is not amused."

Plus which, "parody" has such a lovely etymology: "The word parody is derived from the Greek parōidía, 'a song sung alongside another.'"

Matthew James

about 1 month ago

ChatGPT tells me it's called 'dysphemistic wordplay,' so yeah, I think we need a better term.

Paul Lundgren

about 1 month ago

I kind of wanted it to be a fancy term like "dysphemistic wordplay," but that doesn't really seem to describe it as well as "brand parody," so for now I'm going with brand parody.

Paul Lundgren

about 1 month ago

I just remembered that people used to refer to the Duluth band Crazy Betty as "Lazy Sweaty." 

There must be more local band-brand parodies, but they aren't immediately jumping to the front of my mind, other than that Father Hennepin is sometimes referred to as "Fat Hens," but that seems like a different thing. It's an abbreviation brand parody. Whole other level, right?

accipiterbuteo

about 1 month ago

Saint Ann's Residences = Satan's Residences

Paul Lundgren

about 1 month ago

Ahh, yes. Satan's Residence. That's a classic. It's added to the list now. Thanks!

Dave Sorensen

about 1 month ago

We call Home Depot "Home Despot"

Northern_Owlbear

about 1 month ago

I remember references to The Tap Room as The "Clap" Room.

Paul Lundgren

about 1 month ago

Home Despot being a national chain maybe disqualifies it from the list (although I put Shopper Shitty on there and there were five of those in Minnesota, so it was a minor chain).

The Clap Room is a perfect fit and is now on the list.

Jason Cork messaged me with two more band parody names -- Gildrunko for Giljunko and Boner Petite for Bone Appetit.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 weeks ago

I have two very common ones that aren't local enough to include on the list but are perfect examples of this type of thing. When I was kid the Minnesota Twins were commonly referred to as the "Twinkies." And Kmart was "Came Apart."

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