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May 8, 2008

Baskin-Robbins Loses Founder, But Great Product Naming Lives On

BaskinRobbins31.pngThe passing of Irvine Robbins of Baskin-Robbins fame has me paying tribute to a man who really knew the value of eye catching product naming.

The name Baskin-Robbins was an amalgamation of the names of its founders, Irvine Robbins and Burton Baskin. The two men flipped a coin to see whose name came first, leading later generations to wonder if an ice cream chain called Robbins-Baskin would have done nearly as well.

Robbins discovered as a teenager that he could sell three times the ice cream if he changed the offering from “three scoops of ice cream, a slice of banana, two kinds of toppings” to “Super Banana Treat.” This was the start of a cornucopia of ice cream naming.

There have been over a thousand great flavors over the years like Valley Forge Crunch, for the 1976 Bicentennial, Lunar Cheesecake, to mark the moon landings, and Beatle Nut for Beatlemania.

After his retirement, Robbins named his boat “The 32nd Flavor.” Nice.

The Baskin-Robbins brand name itself is very powerful. The famous 31 flavors (one for every day of the month) grew from the original 21 flavors . The company, owned by Dunkin Brands is gearing up for a major US expansion with a new logo, graphics, web site, store design and of course some new product naming.

baskin-robbins-1.pngBaskin-Robbins was there with some really funky naming before the founders of Ben and Jerry’s were born and before Häagen-Dazs hit the big time (that name means nothing, really, and it invented Nordic consonance)

Basskin-Robbins’s great names for their flavors have always intrigued us and made a trip to the brightly colored stores special. This company, one of the first true franchises in the US and one of the pioneers of the high end ice cream market, probably owes its existence not only to its great ice cream, but also to the foresight of its founders, who understood that great flavors need great names.

RIP, Mr. Robbins.

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Posted by William Lozito at May 8, 2008 8:00 AM
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