Crème and Caramel

Dec 5, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  1 Comment

This cracks me up:

I work at Starbucks, and you may have seen that our new Christmas drink this year is a Caramel Brulée. Spelled that way. At least, in the U.S. it’s spelled that way.

I was looking through the signage for it a few days ago and discovered that the spelling on Canadian signs is “Caramel Brûlé,” which is actually correct. “Caramel,” in French, is masculine, and the past participle of “to burn” (brûler) is brûlé. If the noun was feminine (as in “Crème Brûlée”), there would be the additional “E” on the end, but because it’s masculine, there isn’t.

So… what’s up with that, Starbucks? Is it because Canadians would be more likely to recognize the error? Because Americans are used to the spelling of Crème Brûlée (with less understanding of the actual origin of the dessert name) and wouldn’t notice the difference (and they’ve even omitted the accent circonflexe over the U!) — or would think that it was misspelled because it’s not what they’re used to?

All I know is that when I pointed it out to my co-workers, they were insulted that Starbucks didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt to name the drink correctly. They may not have known the conjugation of the verb, but they were rather insulted that Starbucks assumed they would rather have the misspelling as the name of the drink than have it named properly across the continent.

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