I was in the cereal aisle when I began to feel sorry for the people who spend their working hours naming things.

I was in the cereal aisle when I began to feel sorry for the people who spend their working hours naming things.

Cars, for instance, though I wasn't thinking about cars in the cereal aisle. I think about them on the road, however, and just imagining what those automotive marketing people go through gives me a headache. The Ford Focus. The Edge. The Fiesta. (Why? Is this car supposed to make a person feel like partying? And speaking of the Fiesta, why not the Ford Pinata? Great looking on the outside, full of cool stuff on the inside. If Ford had a suggestion box, I'd put that in it.)

Of course, Ford doesn't have a lock on weird car names. Toyota has the Venza and the Yaris the Yaris! I keep trying to read it backward Siray thinking it'll make more sense that way, but it doesn't Dodge has the Avenger, the Ram, the Charger Dodge takes a sort of old-West approach to naming vehicles, have you noticed? It's all rock 'em, sock 'em over there, as if "Dodge" was secretly short for Dodgems. I've avoided amusement park Dodgems for years now, because I grew tired of sharing the road with people who think of themselves as The Avenger, The Ram and The Charger. And I don't even want to think about The Viper. I'd rather go straight to Top Thrill Dragster and get it over with.

But I was in the cereal aisle.

I often look at cereal names and wonder about their provenance. Cheerios, for instance. Cheerios has been around so long we scarcely think about its meaning. It means cereal, that's all. But look at that word: Cheery Ohs. It reminds me that all those poor schlubs in General Mills' marketing division had to go on was oats in the shape of a doughnut. Smiley Oats? Morning Oats? Healthy Oats? ("We're not feeding horses here," I imagine somebody saying.)

And when they arrived at Cheerios, did they realize they'd arrived? Did they jump up and down and throw their hats into the air? When "Cheerios" was OK'd as the cereal's name, did they all get a day off, or was it back to the workroom to come up with a name for these wheat flakes?

If it was back to work, they probably didn't mind because they were, after all, in the major leagues, marketing-wise. They might have still been slaving away in the store brands division, hoping and praying to work their way up to the big time, say Kraft Foods or Kellogg.

It was a store brand cereal that caught my eye the other day. Store brand products are almost identical to their major-league counterparts, and their names must suggest the brand-name product without actually copying it. Tasteeos are a fine example, though I'll go to my grave wondering why Tasteeos aren't spelled Tasty-Os. I look at Tasteeos and want to pronounce it "Toss tee oz."

Having said that, I must add that if I get only one question when I go to my grave, I hope I don't waste it on a dumb subject like cereal. Although it would be just like me if I did. On "Jeopardy!" the other night, the final question had to do with Fidel Castro allowing Christmas to be celebrated in Cuba when this man visited.

"Santa Claus," said my husband, deadpan, and I said, "Really?"

He just looked at me. (The answer was Pope John Paul II.) If I can believe, even briefly, in Santa Claus, I would certainly throw away my one chance to understand the meaning of life on a question like "Why was Tasteeos spelled like that?

Then and here I come at last to the point of this tale I saw another off-brand cereal called Tasty Hexagons.

Tasty Hexagons! I thought. What's next, Peppy Polygons? Corny Quadrilaterals?

My husband, when I told him, jumped right into the game.

"Toasted Trapezoids," he said. "Savory Squares."

"Piquant Dodecahedrons." I just thought of that one. It isn't alliterative, but of course neither is "Tasty Hexagons," and it sounds just like it would taste: Like a blend of 12 flavors, with a hint of spice.

Or maybe not. In that case, I offer it to the automotive industry: The 2011 Dodecahedron: It's a polyhedron plus.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer. E-mail her at mbartlett@thisweeknews.com.