Would a kitten by any other name taste so good?

I found out about PETA’s new campaign to rebrand “fish” as “sea kittens” via an NPR story the other day. Their idea is that people might not eat fish if fish were called something cute like “sea kittens” instead.

I believe PETA does a great job of being intentionally outrageous in order to attract publicity. (Naked supermodels, modest proposals, screedy and divisive comics worthy of Jack Chick — the list goes on.)

Would people really change their eating behavior over just a name? Sweetbreads don’t seem to be very popular, despite their very appetizing name. But it’s true that I’d probably not chose to buy a brand of jam called “Nastyvomit’s Famous Rhubarb Preserves,” so maybe PETA is onto something.

As an experiment, I’ll be saying “sea kitten” instead of “fish” when I remember to. My suspicion is that no behavior will be changed. (Which reminds me, sometime I need to write about the Sapir Worf hypothesis.) The entire PETA campaign is very sea kitteny. But as they say: Give a man a sea kitten, and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach a man how to sea kitten, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.

Which leads to the question: What other animals need to be renamed along kitten lines? My friend Brian has already dubbed birds as “sky kittens” (as in, “those sky kittens downed that plane yesterday, so glad everyone got out of the Hudson alive”) and Rachel has started using the phrase “land kittens” to refer to regular, um, kittens.

I hereby declare:

  • “Cows” are now “land puppies”
  • “Pigs” are now “furless sty kittens”
  • “Chickens” are now “flightless sky kittens”

PETA needs to go the other way, too. In order to get people to eat more vegetarian food, it should sound appetizing. Therefore:

  • “Tofu” is now “soma”
  • “Soy burger” is now “yummy burgah”
  • “Tempeh” is now “bacon”

7 Responses to “Would a kitten by any other name taste so good?”

  1. Kate Says:

    You made me spit soda onto my monitor.

  2. Kate Says:

    But then, you’re just sea kittening for compliments, aren’t you?

  3. Tomi Says:

    What about a crocodile?

  4. Lord Gek Says:

    Steve, as I recall, your own food deal was you couldn’t eat anything with eyes, right?

  5. Stephen Says:

    Heh, Tim, no that wasn’t me. I’m the “no mammals” guy.

    Tomi, I ate alligator at the garlic festival. Tasty! Reptiles are fair game.

  6. Kimberly Says:

    The first time I read about this, last week, I thought for sure it was a headline from The Onion.

  7. Akos Says:

    Flightless Sky Kittens of the Sea?

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