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ESL Article: Americans and the "Oberfest"

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A chain of ice cream stores here in the US, called Baskin Robbins, has a large number of flavors they rotate in the stores, depending on the season. They have at least 31 in the store at any given time, but I think the real number must be at least 150. This year, in October, they are featuring a large variety of chocolate ice creams (we have a lot of types here, including one popular flavor that is called "Death by Chocolate"). The name of this month-long ice cream event is "Choctoberfest".

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One of the car companies (I can't remember which one) is having a clearance sale that gives heavy discounts and special financing to people who buy trucks. The name of the month-long event is "Trucktoberfest".

There are certainly many more of these "-oberfest" words.

You may already know about the "wienermobiles", which are two big hotdog-shaped trucks that tour the country offering hotdog samples at fairs and other events. These have been around at least since I was a little kid. When you visit a weinermobile, you can also get a small, plastic "wiener whistle", on which you can play the three-note trademark tune of the Oscar Meier company.

You may or may not know also that the word "wiener" (pronounced with /w/) is children's slang for a penis. By extension, somehow, children also use it as an uncomplimentary name for a rude, selfish person. When I went to Austria, I almost bought a monthly magazine I saw there to take home and show my friends. It had the face of a very handsome male model, shown very close up, and above his head was the title of the publication: "Wiener". To an American, this looks as if the publishers are proclaiming to the public, "Look! This guy's a real jerk!"

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Next:ESL Article: How I read Irving's Novel

Author: James Kirchner


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