Gay. BEN Gay.

The folks who market Ben Gay probably suffer from the same problem as the people who market Spam. When the meaning of your word changes underneath you, what do you do?

Eh, who cares? It’s not MY problem. I’ve got Ben Gay all over my back and neck right now, so obviously the folks marketing it have figured out how to overcome their little Word Problem, at least in my case. Oh, and we have Spam in the house, too, not that I’ve eaten it recently. Hormel’s doing alright, I guess.

With Ben Gay there’s a definite time and a place. “Ow, my NECK! Honey, go get the Ben Gay.” But Spam? What’s the occasion where “Let’s crack open a can of THIS stuff” is appropo?

“Honey, I’ve figured out what to feed the in-laws!”

I should keep my voice down. The lady whose family I married into is also the one who rubbed this burning ointment all over my back.


30 thoughts on “Gay. BEN Gay.”

        1. Sounds good really. I love velveeta. Most of the food my folks had was unprepaired and needed a lot of cooking time. Not much canned goods that I recall.

          But when we were older I do remember cheese slices placed on bread open faced so the cheese was exposed. I’d put them in the oven and turn it to grill and wait untill the cheese poofed up, it’d be brown but not burned. Finding that was an accident but it’s so good. When if poofs out it’ll look like a pillow, it deflates when pulled but the flavor is tops. I haven’t had that in years.

  1. Color me oh, so very amused by those last three sentences.

    I don’t like BenGay, and the fact the name makes me snicker immaturely has nothing to do with it. I use Absorbine, personally. I pick up a quart of it for fifteen bucks at the feed and grain store, and it lasts a while. It’s a green liquid equine liniment. (You can also get it with an applicator sponge in a smaller bottle amongst the human-themed medicines at W*M.) It’s about the only type of muscle-soreness medication of that genre I can use, and has the added bonus of not leaving any greasy or oily residue. Absorbs right in, great for my hands and wrists when my RSI joint problems kick in while I’m working on the computer.

          1. Re: EDIT

            actually i think it’s funnier as “your inlaws” because misspoken comments are always funniest 🙂

            although i’ve never tried it myself, a friend of mine makes what is considered almost legendarily good Spam Chili. (we both do a form of fantasy/mideval combat re-enactment thing, so the spam chili’s popularity spans a good hundred people from all across the country)

            it’s the only time i’ve ever heard “oh SH&T! i’m out of spam!”

  2. Spam

    Meat in a can.

    If prepared right, it’s still good.

    I prefer it over rice, with or without eggs.

    The Hawaiian limited edition was…even better.

    Yeah, I’m hopeless.

  3. Can you imagine how easy it would be to make commercials for spam that make fun of its new meaning? I mean, the v1codin, c1alis and v1a.gra jokes alone…

  4. An old Mentholatum rub in the UK is called “Deep Heat”
    Does what it says on the tube.
    Clogs up m’lungs with the stink, tho’….

  5. Household names

    Some products have the problem of becoming generic household names – i.e. zipper and aspirin. Both used to be the brand name of the product (Bayer was the company to first come out with aspirin -I think). My band-aids aren’t “Band-Aid” brand and I call all facial tissue “Kleenex” (that is actually the brand I use at home). I even call the cheap plastic food containers that Ziploc and Glad have come out with “Tupperware” because “cheap plastic food containers” is too long to say and I haven’t come up with a more appropriate/differentiating name.

    1. Re: Household names

      Aspirin is still a Bayer trademark in other countries (certainly in Europe, and ISTR it is in Canada as well). I didn’t know zipper had been. Escalator is another word like that (originally, a trademark of the Electric Stair Company).

      1. Re: Household names

        Asprin is always used as an example of a trademark sliding into the public domain, but the reality is that the US government punitively invalidated the trademark of a German company during World War II.

        This doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. Kleenex is still a trademark. Xerox is still a trademark. They had to retroactively invent generic words (“Facial tissue” and “copier”, respectively), but they didn’t lose their trademark status due to becoming too popular.

        Some things like “Corn Flakes” have trouble being a trademark because there’s no generic term. (You can’t own the language, if there’s no non-trademarked way of saying it then you haven’t got a trademark.) But that problem’s there from day 1, and easily fixable by making some other description up (it’s not a “Univac”, it’s a “Computer”) and trying to promote its use for competitors’ products.


  6. The one difference I can see here is that th makers of Ben Gay probably don’t have the same great corporate sense of humor as Hormel does. Hormel is remarkably clueful about the other meaning of the word “spam”, and as long as you respect their trademark (SPAM, all upper-case, should only be used to refer to the canned meat product; if you’re talking about unsolicited commercial email, it’s spam, lower-case), they’ll chuckle with you and go on.

    If you ever find yourself in southern Minnesota, budget a couple of hours to see the SPAM Museum in Austin. (It’s about 20 miles west of I-35, just off I-90.) Definitely worth, doing, and free – assuming you can resist the lure of the gift shop.

    1. (And, Howard, if you are ever in the area, I’m going to be extremely disappointed if we don’t get together for dinner at least.)

  7. a good recipe my husband came up with…

    Sweet and Sour Spam
    Approx: ½ cup of tomato sauce or paste, vinegar and sugar to taste.
    Boil 2 carrots and then sauté carrots and 2 stalks of celery.
    Chop up spam and fry. Mix everything in one pan and mix in the sauce and heat.
    Eat over rice.

    It’s actually really good.
    We bought a case of SPAM at a case sale…
    have to figure out some ways to use it.
    My favorite is fried SPAM sandwiches with some mayo and mustard and sometimes with cheese. Growing up, my friend’s grandma made me my first SPAM sandwich. I always remember it tasting really good.

  8. “But Spam? What’s the occasion where “Let’s crack open a can of THIS stuff” is appropo?”

    When you’re starving in the trenches in The Great War?

    1. Re: Spam

      By “isn’t touching” you of course mean “If I’d known it was in there I wouldn’t have had any,” right? Because otherwise your ultimatum is a little, well, penultimate. 🙂

      1. Re: Spam


        I wonder what she said next. ];-)

        An aside; perhaps related to my immunity to morphine, I cannot use Ben Gay. It is like getting a back rub with acid — and I have a very high pain tolerance.

        But SPAM is acceptable as a meal or snack on occasion, and very handy on bivouacs. In the latter case, I’ve actually looked forward to it.

        ===|==============/ Level Head

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