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Pez Name Origins

When an Austrian candy maker needed a name for his new line of mints, he took the first, middle, and last letters of the German word pfefferminz, or “peppermint,” to form the brand name PEZ. He later marketed the candies as an...

Purfling

A violin maker wonders about the origin of a practice in his trade known as purfling, where a black and white line is inlaid into a tiny channel along the edge of the instrument. Martha traces the word back to the Latin filum, meaning...

Everything is Tickety-Boo

News reports that the makers of Scrabble were changing the rules to allow proper names left some purists fuming. The rumors were false, but they got Grant thinking about idiosyncratic adaptations of the game’s rules. Also this week, the...

Listener Riddle and Puzzle

A listener from Bethel, Maine, calls with a riddle she heard at summer camp: The maker doesn’t want it, the buyer doesn’t use it, and the user never sees it. What is it? She also stumps the hosts with a puzzle: What adjective requires...

aircrete

aircrete  n.— «HeidelbergCement’s sale of Thermalite was postponed after failing to attract a high enough bid for the nation’s biggest maker of aerated-concrete blocks, also known as aircrete, used to insulate buildings...

kill step

kill step  n.— «Threatened with a federal shutdown, the pie maker, ConAgra Foods, began spot-checking the vegetables for pathogens, but could not find the culprit. It also tried cooking the vegetables at high temperatures, a strategy the...