Household Name

Household Name
Surprising stories about how the biggest, household name brands affect our lives and culture — for better or worse. Host Dan Bobkoff finds tales of tragedy, love, strange histories, unintended consequences, and accidental success. More information at
30: What does a brand sound like?
Apr 24 • 34 min
Companies spend a lot of time and effort perfecting the look of their brands. But now what a brand sounds like matters just as much. We trace the history from songs to jingles to what’s called sonic branding, following the creative process that led to…
29: La Croix, Canada Goose, and Carhartt are cool. Why?
Apr 17 • 37 min
Some brands aren’t cool no matter how hard they try. Others start out cool, but lose their cachet over time. Then there are the brands that somehow, surprisingly turn cool. Without really changing their products, La Croix, Canada Goose, and Carhartt…
28: Victoria’s Secret is Out
Apr 10 • 36 min
For decades, two men at Victoria’s Secret have had immense power. One built the chain into a powerhouse. The other ran the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, handpicking the models called “angels.” Then many started to question its standards of beauty. So…
27: Harley-Davidson Rides to Live
Apr 3 • 36 min
Harley-Davidson spent more than a century branding its motorcycles as the bikes for rebels and macho cowboys. They’re made in America, for Americans. But Harley’s core customers are aging and before long will die out. Younger generations aren’t stepping…
26: The Best a Woman Can Gillette
Feb 27 • 35 min
Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin always figured razor companies convinced women to start shaving. But when they looked into it, they discovered the question of why women shave is much more complicated than they thought. The answer involves painted on…
25: The VW Beetle’s Dark Past
Feb 20 • 37 min
The Volkswagen Beetle is a symbol of peace, love, and harmony. It’s also a product of Nazi Germany. The story of how the Beetle transformed from Hitler’s car to the Love Bug involves a British army major and a surprising team of advertisers.
24: An International Amazon Mystery
Feb 13 • 36 min
Danielle wanted a copy of “Pride and Prejudice,” so she clicked the top result on Amazon. The book that came in the mail was too big with type that was too small. The introduction was laughable. The story of how this book came to be took us halfway around…
23: Apple 1984
Feb 6 • 37 min
In the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, Apple ran a commercial that changed the Super Bowl and Apple forever. But it almost never aired. Featuring original interviews with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former CEO John Sculley, and the ad’s creators,…
22: Martha Stewart in the Middle
Jan 30 • 35 min
Less than a decade after Martha Stewart left prison, she was in court again. It was a three-way fight between Martha, Macy’s, and JCPenney that could have played out in a middle school cafeteria. And the fight raised an intriguing question: What exactly…
21: Crocs: From Punchline to Fashion Line
Jan 23 • 34 min
For years, Crocs were ridiculed as America’s ugliest shoes. The’ve been called “pock-faced,” “plastic hoofs,” and the “garden gnome of fashion.” But now, they’re actual fashion, thanks to some help from top name designers and celebrities. Crocs are in.…
20: Does Panera Care?
Jan 16 • 35 min
What happens when a restaurant chain tries a bold experiment that tests human nature? If you ask customers to pay what they want for a sandwich, will they help others in need? PLUS: Customer Service tackles “genericide.” It happened to the Elevator.
19: Kentucky Fried Christmas
Dec 19, 2018 • 43 min
How did Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken take over Christmas in Japan? PLUS: Household Name Uncut covers some Christmas decorating gone horribly wrong and the curse of the colonel.
18: Resting Botox Face
Nov 28, 2018 • 37 min
Look a little angry? Accused of having a “resting bitch face”? Now, there’s a drug for that: Botox. The early joke about Botox was that it froze faces. But increasingly, people are seeking a different effect: actually altering their expressions, and maybe…
17: Better Call Butterball
Nov 21, 2018 • 35 min
Butterball turkey experts have been answering your burning turkey questions since 1981. This week, we hear from the turkey talkers about the wildest calls and how to pull off a “perfect” Thanksgiving dinner. Then listeners call into our own Turkey…
16: NASA Uncut
Nov 14, 2018 • 41 min
We don’t think of most government agencies as brands, but NASA is different. This year is the space agency’s 60th anniversary, so we’re diving into NASA’s brand history to bring you little-known stories about a meatball and a worm, some astronauts with…
15: The Waffle House Index
Nov 7, 2018 • 37 min
When a disaster hits the South, chances are the local Waffle House will be back open in no time. The 24-hour breakfast chain is so good at responding to storms that FEMA uses it to determine where to deploy disaster aid. How does Waffle House get up and…
14: Sears: There Was More For Your Life
Oct 31, 2018 • 36 min
Before Sears filed for bankruptcy, it was run by a reclusive billionaire who’d call into meetings from his mansion on a Florida island. It was one of the unusual ways Eddie Lampert ran the department store chain. He also stopped investing in the stores.…
13: Gangs? At Disneyland?
Oct 24, 2018 • 34 min
Once upon a time, gangs roamed Disneyland in biker vests. They swarmed rides. They got in fights. Or so we thought… The real story is kind of a classic Disney fairy tale: about a princess and her merry band of friends. But is there a happily ever after?
12: A Wrench in Tesla
Oct 17, 2018 • 37 min
This year, Tesla’s image took a hit. The company fell behind on production targets, reports came out that it may be skipping safety tests and making mistakes on the production line, creating more waste. It didn’t help that Elon Musk smoked weed on a…
11: The Amway Dream
Oct 3, 2018 • 35 min
Amway is a multi-level marketing company: the structure is triangular, but don’t call it a pyramid scheme. The Federal Trade Commission already tried and failed. Now, hundreds of MLMs like Amway are embedded in America’s towns and cities, and in the…
10: The Macy’s Home Department
Sep 26, 2018 • 36 min
The Macy’s at Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia closed its doors for good a year ago. Then, the whole mall shut down. The empty department store become a homeless shelter. And a woman who once worked there, found herself sleeping there.
9: The Mattress Firm Conspiracy Theory
Sep 19, 2018 • 37 min
We go on a mission to find out why there are so many Mattress Firm stores. How do they end up next door and across the street from each other? Are the mattresses full of money? Reddit users started a conspiracy theory, so we teamed up with WBUR and…
8: The Jell-O Curse
Sep 12, 2018 • 39 min
Allie Rowbottom’s life is built on a Jell-O fortune, just like it was for the lives of her mother and her grandmother. But along with the wealth from America’s most famous dessert, there came a curse. Now the most recent heir to the Jell-O fortune, Allie…
7: The Bodies at the Brooks Brothers
Sep 5, 2018 • 36 min
There’s a Brooks Brothers store across the street from the World Trade Center in New York. Shortly after the attacks on September 11, a young doctor named Sandeep Jauhar headed to ground zero to help. He ended up at the store, which was transformed into a…
6: Basically Starbucks
Aug 29, 2018 • 37 min
A Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks is the perfect accessory for the “basic bitch.” But why? We dive into the PSL’s origin story, and trace Starbucks’ route from elitist to basic. PLUS: Product Misplacement with Jean Edelstein.
5: The Coca-Cola President
Aug 22, 2018 • 37 min
Not many Presidents can say they got their start driving soda trucks around their country. Mexico’s former President Vicente Fox can, though. We find out what role Coca-Cola played in his rise to power, and investigate Coke’s unprecedented domination in…
4: Trader Joe’s No-Buck Chuck
Aug 15, 2018 • 34 min
Trader Joe’s “Two-Buck Chuck” is the wine that got many of us through college. But when we found out that “Chuck” – or Charles Shaw – is a real guy, we had to know more. Turns out the real Charles Shaw has a wild winemaking past full of gambles,…
3: The Last Blockbuster
Aug 8, 2018 • 35 min
How has Blockbuster Video survived against the odds so long in Alaska, and what will its decline mean? Before the world’s last Blockbuster stores disappear forever, we pay them a visit on the last frontier to find out.
2: Donald and Ivana’s Affair (with Pizza Hut)
Aug 1, 2018 • 41 min
When Pizza Hut can’t get anyone to buy their new Stuffed Crust Pizza, help comes from an unlikely pair: Donald and Ivana Trump. We hear the behind the scenes making of this ad, and in turn, the making of a president. PLUS: Our first installment of Uncut…
1: TGI Fridays: The Tinder of the 1960s
Jul 25, 2018 • 36 min
You wouldn’t know it from the tired decor at TGI Fridays today, but this family restaurant has a sexy past. It was once a game-changing singles bar, which arrived on the cusp of the sexual revolution. We go back to the 60s and 70s to experience the…
Household Name Trailer
Jul 17, 2018 • 1 min
Business Insider is teaming up with Stitcher to bring you surprising stories behind the brands we all know, whether we love them or loathe them. Host Dan Bobkoff will change the way you think about Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, Starbucks, and dozens of other…