Staunton, April 17 – Whenever a country goes to war, some in its population will decide to eliminate references to the enemy in the names of popular products. During World War I, Americans started calling sauerkraut “victory cabbage,” and more recently, some of them referred to French fries as “freedom fries” to protest French opposition to the war in Iraq.
Neither of these rebranding efforts lasted very long, as people were more comfortable with the old names and the original outburst of super patriotism behind them died down. Something similar has been happening in Russia, with the calls of some to drop references to Ukraine and Kyiv in product names rapidly fading.
According to the Nazaccent portal, after Putin launched his war in Ukraine in February, some politically active people in Vologda, Moscow and other Russian cities called for the popular Kiev cutlet to be renamed so that there would be no reference to anything Ukrainian (nazaccent.ru/content/38055-rebrending-otmenyaetsya-kotleta-po-kievski-okazalas-vne-politiki.html).
Some restaurant and food store owners followed suit, but the population showed little stomach for the change. As one put it, “if you begin with the cutlet, then we will soon ban Ukrainian literary classics, music, plays, and then Ukrainian family names? What’s next?” In most cases, the portal says, the old names have returned and few are asking for any change.
While this may seem a small thing, it may represent a better barometer of public attitudes in Russia than many public opinion polls the Kremlin regularly offers as an indication of overwhelming and unquestioning popular backing for its war. But most likely, it is simply a reflection of inertia: people don’t want to change what they have long been used to.
And that is something anyone who visits New York can testify to: Former Governor Rockefeller may have changed the official name of Sixth Avenue to Avenue of the Americas; but for natives of the city, at least of a certain age, it remains Sixth Avenue and likely will for all time.