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For some companies, there’s no freedom from ‘French’

If the word French brings to your mind images of nefarious cheese-eating surrender monkeys sipping merlot, it’s likely that your favorite mustard isn’t French’s, your kids don’t trot off to school in French Toast uniforms and you’d rather cross the street than walk past a French Connection.

While munching on a croissant, Shoptalk decided to have a tête-à-tête with each of these marketers vis-à-vis its name. In keeping with the de rigueur manner of a stubborn Gaullist, it turns out not one is considering renaming itself to reflect the current Francophobe zeitgeist. Quelle horror!

“French Connection is actually a British-based company, but even so, we’ve been completely unaffected by any anti-French feeling,” says a rep for the purveyor of young women’s not-so-haute couture. Ah, hiding behind the British—a typical French ploy. Sacre bleu!

French’s mustard “is 100 percent American, with homegrown roots stronger than most,” says Elliott Penner, president of Reckitt Benckiser’s food division. “Please set the record straight for this beloved American icon!” Ellyn Small, a company rep, adds pointedly: “French’s mustard is so American, it’s ridiculous!” (The esteemed Mount Horeb Mustard Museum—www.mustardweb.com—confirms this, hailing French’s founder, Robert Timothy French, a New Yorker, as one of the “mustard makers of America.”)

A rep at French’s agency, Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners (sounds suspiciously French, non?), says there are no plans to change the mascot’s name from the French’s Mustard Man to the Freedom Mustard Man. Mon dieu!

Alas, French Toast Apparel did not return phone calls. J’accuse!