Going to Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in the Eastland Mall in Flint, Michigan with my family was an event when I was growing up. It was a whole thing. It wasn’t like we didn’t regularly have ice cream in the freezer, or that we didn’t have a little convenience store on our own block that had a decent selection, both of which was the case. What made it such a big deal was that my normally thrifty parents were taking my brothers and me out somewhere to a place that wasn’t “free”, like to a public park or for a drive.
Money, for pleasure, was about to be spent on us kids on a day that was neither Christmas or any of our birthdays. In recent years, emphasis has been brought to the importance of self-care and the ritual of doing special things for oneself, no matter how small they may seem. The seeds of this idea may well have been sown in my mind during those early trips to Baskin-Robbins with the act of a dollar and change being spent on a delicious, quickly consumed, frozen treat.
At some point, my preference had shifted from ice cream to sherbet, though not exclusively. I like all things tart and tangy, with Sweet Tarts being one of my favorite candies, so for a while, lime sherbet was my default order. The great thing about Baskin-Robbins was that they would let you sample flavors on a little, flat, rounded, wooden stick before making your final selection. Even if I knew what I wanted, I would often ask, “Can I try…?” some other flavor, just because I could. And yes, I would ask “can” and not “may” before that got fixed.
Speaking of which, correct pronunciation of a few words ended up being a little bit of an issue for me once I left the family nest. My west African father had a thick accent that was actually not like other Africans I’ve ever heard, with his speech having been filtered through Germany and England before he landed in the United States in his twenties. There was pretty much zero chance I was going to grow up emulating the way he spoke. My mom, a white Midwesterner raised in Ohio, grew up on a farm.
My grandparents had pretty flat dialects to my ears (though they did refer to the Show-Me State as “Missourah”), and I don’t remember anything questionable about the grammar I heard them use. Of course, I’d be kidding myself to think I don’t also have an accent (an unsubtle Michigan one), and while I don’t pretend to be a strict disciple of American linguist Noam Chomsky, I recognize that there’s a difference between dialect and mispronunciation. I’m talking about the latter.
It is beyond me how an extra “r” sound ended up in my family’s pronunciation of the word “sherbet”. To the Dennises, it wasn’t sherbet. It was “sher-bert”. For years. In fact, in my head, it still is. It’s one of those words in my vocabulary that actually takes effort for me to pronounce correctly when I use it in conversation with other people. It’s frustrating. How can I nail sorbet (“sor-BAY”) with no problems, whatsoever, but it often takes every fiber of my being not to ask for a scoop of lime sher-bert for dessert at a restaurant? It’s okay, as I realize I must “per-ser-vere”… there I go again, mispronouncing yet another word I grew up saying incorrectly.
The proper name of the color of this ’79 Bonneville is “Willow Mist Green” (“Lime Sherbet”, though fitting and accurate, might have seemed a bit lowbrow for Pontiac), and it is a lovely shade that seems very much of its time. It also reminds me of the color of a lime chiffon dress that would be worn by one of the beautiful ladies on Soul Train when this car was new, as she would twirl in rhythm to the latest hit by Carrie Lucas on that strobe-lit dance floor. It is often discussed how the palette of modern automotive paint colors is drab compared to the peacock-like spectrum that used to be available on many cars, but I’m trying to imagine a new, 2021 vehicle that would wear this color as nicely as this 1979 Pontiac. I’m honestly at a loss.
As referenced in an earlier essay I had written about a different 1979 Bonneville, the big Pontiacs were in the middle among the production numbers of the full-sized GM B-Body cars from the various divisions that year. To expand on the frozen treat metaphor, if the very popular Chevrolets were a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and the Pontiacs were sherbet, maybe the Buicks were frozen custard – just a little fancier and with a few more calories. Runner-up Oldsmobile might also have been ice cream, but perhaps in a combination of flavors, like mint chocolate chip, since with Olds, you always got just a little something extra.
The pictures of our featured car are almost ten years old, so here’s hoping it hasn’t since melted into a puddle of pastel green rust flakes since I took these photographs. As for the words I choose for these compositions, I realize that I sometimes take a few liberties. Often, this is by design, though I’m sure there have been occasions when a verb tense didn’t “agree” or when I pluralized something I shouldn’t have. I try, and if anything, openness to correction of one’s course should be viewed as a blessing and not a sign of deficiency. Unfortunately, the Dunkin Donuts store in the background of the second shot of this car is not also a Baskin-Robbins franchise, as many stores combine the two, but I’m fairly certain the local discount supermarket carries my favorite, citrus-flavored frozen treat. So help me if I need to ask a clerk at the local Aldi where to find the lime sherbet.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, April 2, 2011.
In San Francisco we had an ice cream parlor named “Herbert’s Sherbet Shoppe” so the natural rhyme brought us to say, “Sherbert,” too.
In Oz, it’s said “sher-bert”, and spelt* so. I believe it’s a proper variant, though it must be said that the Australian pronunciation of just about anything is often, er, unique. (Including the word “Australia”, which is universally spoken as “ostraya”, making it a country where its own citizens literally cannot name it!)
I’ve got to confess that this unassertive green is one color whose like I am glad I have not seen since about the time of this Pontiac. It looks insipid, almost as if it’s barely interested in being a color at all. Less sherbert than a weak lime milkshake, which is a most uninteresting concoction. And anyway, even by Pontiac’s own lights, how on earth does a willow mist?
*This would be “spelled” in the US: and as usual with most American variants that bug other English speakers, a moment’s thought nearly always shows the US one to be more sensible.
Hmm, can’t quite agree this time, Justy. Not quite.
I look at this car, and my mind sorta goes slip-sliding away. It tries to focus but – oops! – it sheers off-topic.
The seventies rock band Sherbet spelt their name this way, and I don’t recall seeing the word ever spelt with the extra ‘r’. Pronunciation does vary though; it’s not a word I’d often have cause to use, though if I did say it, it’d be like SHER-b’t. I fully agree with you on how we (mis?)pronounce our country’s name, though I would say that that effect is more pronounced in certain regions. And among certain demographic groups. There are stories I could tell – but we won’t go there. Cars!
Do Canadians say ‘spelt’ or ‘spelled’? I know my Canadian friends mostly use the old British spelling, but never thought to ask them about this word. Cars!!
As to that colour, it’s very insipid. So pastel it looks almost white to me. Now I know I have eyesight issues, so that’s just my perception of this colour as viewed on a cheap laptop. If it wasn’t for Joseph’s caption, I’d have thought it was white. Maybe I need to adjust my screen. Back to cars!!!
Nice Pontiac, and as always from Joseph, a cool story.
“Barely interested in being a color at all” is one of the funniest things I’ve read so far this week!
I owned a ’79 Grand Le Mans 4-door in “Willow Mist Green” (with the green interior & seat belts, Buick 231-2 barrel) in 2001-02. Would’ve kept it longer, but a parking lot accident caused the insurance company to total it (parts unavailability).
The paint was in good shape, as it had been garaged by the original owner most of its 23-year life. I once was pulled over for weaving in a lane on a summer day (explained by a demo of how much play was in its sloppy steering). But the officer also gave me grief because although the registration records said “green,” to his eyes the car was white.
The time of day, weather, and lighting all affected how “green” a Willow Mist Green car actually appeared. Even 20 years ago now, a Pontiac in that shade really stuck out.
As another sherbe(r)t speaker I thought I’d look this up in the old dictionary I have. It shows a dot over the e in ‘bet’, so I went to the ‘Key to Pronunciation’ and it says “A dot placed over a, e, o, or signifies that the vowel has and obscure, indeterminate, or slurred sound” so it seems to be another once of those words that’s spelt differently from the way it sounds. Additionally, although related, Sherbet is Persian in origin whereas Sorbet is French before being absorbed into English, which might explain the different pronunciations.
Wait, it’s not “Sher-BAY”? 🙂 Another instance of English being a most confusing language to non-natives…having to be aware of the etymology of different words is maddening.
Pontiac seemed to have 22 flavors in 1979, only ten shy of BR, surely there’s one for everybody even if the lime sherbet wasn’t to their liking. An excellent selection.
The colour chart’s interesting. This isn’t the only weak pastel they offered that year. A lot of pales, a lot of darkness, and not much in between. Not that I would want an Orbit Orange or Carousel Red Bonneville, but some medium blues of greens would’ve been nice.
Very Brougham colours, I guess.
I’m actually a little surprised that some marketer for a company hasn’t come up with “sher-bay” (phonetically spelled, as you have) as a new kind of treat. Not bad at all.
It just sounds fancier and thus more delicious. It’s like calling the store Tar-jay with a soft J instead of Target. We have a town nearby named Severance which sounds terrible so we pronounce it Sever-augh… 🙂 Our winters are sometimes long…
I still call it “sherbert,” without apology. Maybe it is a regional, New England thing, because most people I know do the same.
Haha, this nails it. I share your struggle, but maybe it makes sense as our mothers were born and raised not terribly far from one another. My theory is that “sherbet” is one of those words that regional dialects play havoc with, and that northeastern pronunciations which were influential before the 1950s had an effect. Because in places like Massachusetts or Maine where they don’t pronounce hard Rs it would have been “sheh-bet” which sounds like “sheh-beht” which we midwesterners mentally translate into “sherbert”, just as we would translate the New England version of President Hoover’s first name (“Heh-beht”) to “Herbert”. One man’s theory, anyway.
As for the color, I have to side with Justy on this one. I didn’t like the color when I had to wear a tux of that shade at a cousin’s wedding in 1977 and I still don’t. And FWIW, I never developed a taste for McDonalds’ Shamrock Shakes or buttermints either. And why, with all of those easter egg pastels being so popular then, did we not get the pink or lavender or creamsicle orange?
Seriously, If I were ever in the market for a car of this kind, I would give serious second thoughts to one painted this color.
Buttermints – wow! This is the color of green butter mints. In fact, I had made that comparison with a similarly-hued ’77 Coupe DeVille about a year ago. https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cc-outtakes/in-motion-outtakes-1977-cadillac-coupe-deville-a-butter-mint-in-the-rain/
I do like buttermints, but it has been a while since I’ve had a Shamrock Shake. I think I had gotten a few of them back in the day only because they were available for only a brief period of time in March, and because everyone else seemed to love them. There’s a McDonald’s not far from my house, so I may have to try to relive the magic this year. Who knows? I may end up loving it in 2021.
“I may end up “loving it” in 2021”… I see what you did there, Joseph. 😉
As to sherbert, I honestly thought you misspelled it in the title. In Baltimore, everyone calls it sherbert.
Of course that isn’t saying much… Here in Charm City, many folks call that which you drink “wuter”. Now THAT is dumb, and I refuse to pronounce it that way. I still don’t know the etymology of that one.
I believe this was a one-year-only color, and with good reason. The Kermit-green interiors were even worse. I used to make the connection to mint chocolate chip ice cream, but now realize I was mistaken, as that’s a much more neutral color. No, this is indeed Lime Sherbet (pronounced “sherbet”; I’m still unclear whether or not sherbet and sorbet are the same thing or not). In 1980 there were three greens to choose from, a dark jadestone and dark and light versions of a blue-green, none of which were Lime Sherbet.
When I was in first grade someone at my school thought I had a speech impediment. In actuality, I had merely picked up my mom’s Québecoise accent. People still occasionally ask me if I’m Canadian after hearing me speak, although I never lived in Canada.
I think that your possessing a trace of your mom’s Québecoise accent is a pretty cool legacy thing to have.
I did think my dad’s accent was cool. I’m trying, and I honestly can’t remember being embarrassed by it, at least past a certain age. Our dialects and accents, and those of our people, whatever and whoever they are, are a connection to something bigger than us.
It was “sure-bert” here also. My thought is if there is an “r” in “colonel”, then there is an “r” in the last half of sherbet. Similar is the case with the “sh” sound in sure, but that’s a different rat hole.
Now, in regards to speech, I suspect I was born further south (for those born in North America) than any other regular contributor. Thus my speech reflects it. I love a hard R and I’m still working on correcting the way I pronounce a few words – although I have eliminated “ain’t”, a contraction of “am not”, from my vocabulary.
However, in the name of all that is good and nice, the state I live in is pronounced with a long e at the end. That “uh” at the end is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Hearing “Miss-oo-rah” (no offense to your mother) is like calling this horribly colored Pontiac a Boonville.
Oh, man. “Ain’t” was becoming a habit for me at one point, and corrective measures had to be taken. LOL
I don’t think I’ve ever heard “Boonville” before! I wonder if I have…
The mid-Michigan “R” is very pronounced. At the CC meetup in Detroit in 2017, you and I got to hear what we all sounded like, so I’m sure that my Michigan R’s and all my vowels were in full-effect.
I rather like this color, but I would consider it a mint green instead of lime! And yep, I am smack dab in the middle of the “sherbert” group! But I often throw an “R” in other words that it’s not suppost to be in. My partner is always correcting my pronunciation of wash, I grew up saying “warsh” so I probably always will!
Agreed about the color. It’s not the color of a lime, but when I was putting this essay together and looked at pictures of lime sherbet, it did resemble the color of this car’s paint. Maybe the color lime sherbet is just a bit richer, but not by much.
And I am definitely used to “warsh”, even though I never said it, myself.
Mike Myers, back in his groovy days, seems to say it “sherbert” too… That’s how I would have spelled it instinctively. Never noticed the missing 2nd R until I read your post!
They *both* say “sher-bert”, both Mike Myers and Christian Slater! Believe it or not, I have never seen the original Austin Powers (though I did see a sequel). I may have to queue that up.
NC all my life here…..colonel is “kernel”, just like corn. Sherbet is indeed sherbert. Of course everyone probably knows y’all is common here (less and less so with each passing year of newcomers). But in the NC mountains, Scotch-Irish “warsh”, “you’uns” and “we’uns” are heard daily. I’m not talking about Asheville, which might as well be Dade County. I mean way back up in the real mountains.
I digress from my main observation, which is that you could get a green or blue interior with black paint according to the brochure. What in the world??
It was called choice. Taste seemed to be optional in those days.
Just yesterday, I was looking at an almost flawless ’80 Eldorado on Hemmings that is unfortunately this color. “Princess Green” Cadillac calls it.
I prefer lemon sherbet, which is harder to find.
I have a few great examples of added or missing letters as pronounced in the medium. Frustrated is one, where people will drop the “r” and say, “fustrated.” Another is the famous mispronounciation of “nuclear” as “nook’lee’ar.”
One that still stymies me, as you mentioned the Colonel example, is what we in Canada call the military rank of Lieutenant. For some reason, we say, “Lef-tenant”, which I have yet to figure out.
All that aside. A friend’s elderly parents had one of these Pontiacs, in a nice navy blue. The mother was a bit, er, loud. One day they drove to the cemetery to pay some respects, and she shouted at him to turn one way not the other. Startled, he hit the gas instead of the brakes, and promptly plowed through perhaps dozen headstones. Sheared them right off to the ground.
I think he quit driving after that incident.
Um, I meant, “Nook-U-Ler”. Pardon my typing.
I knew what you meant! Even Marge Simpson is guilty of “nucular”. At 1:58
I can’t say I’m a fan of this color either, although when paired with the Jadestone Green below it in a two tone configuration it was tolerable to me.
Back around 1985 my father’s friend who owned a Chrysler dealership gave him a tip on a Jadestone Green over green vinyl near-stripper ’79 Grand Prix on his lot with very low mileage. He’d marked it down after it sat for some time, as by that time green was not a color anyone wanted to buy. His thought was that my brother or I might be interested. (“It’s a great deal, but nobody can get past the color”) Ummm. That was a hard no. The thing was just hideous, with an interior that could induce vomiting.
There’s an important constitutional law case, Sherbert v. Verner, to add to the mix. It has been superseded, so lawyers no longer have to talk about the “Sherbert test.”
Don’t get me started on “perculator….”
I’m pretty sure my family pronounced sherbet as “fake ice cream” — and had about as much respect for it as they had for things like fake convertible tops. But that said, I think most other folks in Philadelphia not only pronounced it with an extra R, but spelled it that way too.
Pronunciations and accents are funny things. As a little kid, I lived with my Russian grandmother, and grew up speaking English with a thick Russian accent. When I started school, I was put in speech therapy for years to get rid of my accent, but I’m pretty sure my speech teacher had a thick Philly accent that many other English speakers would cringe at.
There are other ways to get rid of Russian accent… 😀
Ha! The irony is that much later on I took Russian in high school and my pronunciation was terrible. My teacher, a rather gruff Ukrainian man, would often yell at me “You sound like an American!” Sometimes, you just can’t win.
After trying to speak Russian, an instructor would say to me, “I’m sorry, but you must stop now. You are butchering my language”.
Eric, this clip was so great. LOL
And as I was saying to la673 above, I think it’s cool that you picked up some of your grandmother’s Russian accent. You probably didn’t love going to speech pathology later, but just think of the amazing human capability we have for the acquisition of speech and inflection, especially at a young age.
That clip sounded nicely like Ensign Pavel Chekhov’s voice to my Star Trek tuned ears. Though American, Walter Koenig was of Russian descent, so I guess that’s how he did the Russian accent so well.
I grew up in a Ukranian district in Toronto, so heard regular doses of the language in the schoolyard daily, sprinkled with some Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian. I imagine it would be challenging to learn English pronunciation from a Ukranian if one were Russian – speaking to begin with.
Oddly enough, I never learned a word of Russian as a little kid — I only picked up a strong accent. So in that respect, being taught Russian in school by a native Ukranian speaker wasn’t unduly difficult.
This sounds a bit like Sid Ceasar. He did not actually speak any languages other than English, but he could mimic the specific accents and inflections so his gibberish would sound authentic to non-speakers of the language.
My parents are from one of the north Atlantic states (Pennsylvania) but due to my father’s job, in their younger years moved around quite a bit (till 40 years ago after which they stayed put). My Mother’s first language is actually Slovak, but it is 99 year old version (my Grandfather emigrated in 1923) and she learned English when she started grade school in PA. My relatives in Slovakia think my mother’s speech is quaint, since their speech had evolved in the 80+ years since, but my Mother’s seemed frozen in the early 20’s. They also find it interesting that most of us wear eyeglasses (except for my youngest sister, everyone in my family has, from a fairly young age).
We did briefly live in Pennsylvania when I was little, but a few hundred miles away from NE PA where my Parents were born, instead in Pittsburgh (actually lived closer to Grandparents when we moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland (Catonsville where we again lived briefly) since in Maryland we lived in eastern part of the state instead of western PA).
In 1969, we moved to northern Virginia, but it was a different place then…I was in 6th grade and my teacher sent me to a speech pathologist thinking there was something wrong with how I talked. I had one visit, didn’t need to return, there really wasn’t anything wrong with my speech other than I didn’t grow up in Virginia, so I didn’t have a southern accent…my teacher really hadn’t run into many people outside of Virginia, it seems, so I seemed to talk oddly to her.
My family moved to Texas 40 years ago; my youngest sister was still young enough (12) that her speech was still “influenceable” (not sure what they call it) whereas the rest of us were older (next younger sister was senior in high school by then and her speech was set by then. Youngest sister didn’t exactly affect a “southern” accent, but she sounded different than the rest of us…plus she would use expressions like “fixin’ to” which no one else in my family did..I think it is just influence of her friends to her speech…by that time the rest of us had it fixed.
As for the Bonneville, I think the color wasn’t too different than was offered by other GM models at the time, and of course the color pallet in the 70’s was much more varied than it is now. My friend from Mobile, Alabama had a 70’s Buick that I think was this color…back then he referred to it as his “lime-o-sine”…of course it wasn’t a limo, but a play on the color. Maybe this is a bit of a stereotype but I usually associate bright colors like this as being more common in southern states than northern ones (back in the 70’s).
Back in the 70’s I remember another car name play on words (from the same person) based on a popular TV series…the “battle-scar Pontiactica” (for a beat up one). I am just repeating the name I heard, maybe others have heard of it (though that TV series is 40 plus going on 50 years ago).
My Dad had a ’78 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Wagon when these Pontiacs came out. I got a kick when looking at the dashboard of the ’86 Pontiac Parisian…which had much the same dashboard as my Dad’s ’78 Chevrolet..guess not surprising since Canadian Pontiacs seemed to have Chevrolet pieces, and I think the Parisian was the Canadian version of the B body Pontiac, by then the Bonneville dash was history.
Joseph, as always I look forward to your posts as your creativity is amazing! Another great read this morning !!!!
The Willow Mist green is a nice color that does go with the era. I recall this color was often paired with the darker green as an optional deluxe two tone. It was popular on the Grand Prix models.
OK, I’m was born and raised in Brooklyn New York, but living more then half of my life in New Jersey. The residents of the New Jersey county I live in (Monmouth County) are mostly from the New York boroughs. My town is mostly transplants from Brooklyn and Staten Island, both of which actually have their own distinct accents and pronunciation of certain words.
But, there are many words that we pronounce the same, such as “Staten Island”, We all pronounce this as “Stat-NEYE-Lund”, combing two words, each with 2 syllables into a 3 syllable word, with a bizarre second syllable. Another word we all pronounce the same is “Florida”. We say, “FLAHR-rid-Ah”. And yes, Sherbet is pronounced as “SHER-bert”. Always has been, always will.
That brings me the name of the model of this beautiful and stylish Pontiac. Is it “BAA-na-ville” or “BONNE-ville”?? Three or two syllables? Here in New Jersey/New York, you’d hear it as three syllables, as either “BAAH-na-ville”, or, “BON-e-ville”. Don’t even ask how we butchered the “Parisienne” which replaced the Bonneville. I can’t even start with that one! Pontiac really should of kept the Bonneville name on that one for us New Yorkers / New Jersians.
I’m not stopping at Pontiac ! The Buick LeSabre, was pronounced as “La-SABE-brah”, And the poor entry level Cadillac (and later Oldsmobile) Calais was pronounced as “KAH-laize” .
NJcarguy, thank you so much, and also for pointing out some of the dialect things about your part of the country. I have heard those pronunciations for both Staten Island, and Florida.
“La-SABE-brah” and “KAH-laize” don’t actually sound that alien to me. With the Buick, the whole ending-in-an-e thing would definitely lend itself to that pronunciation. In the case of “Calais”, ending with a z looks logical enough. There are other mispronunciations that would grate on me more. LOL
Monmouth County guy here (Clarksburg), although I call Pittsburgh home these days. The dead giveaway for me are the words “coffee” (caw-fee), “water” (wooder), and my Jersey Italian pronunciation of capicola (gabagool), mozzarella (mootzadell), ricotta (rigot), etc. My pinky ring is also a giveaway but that’s another story.
Don’t see too many Ponchos in NJ these days aside from Firebirds/Trans Ams. My stepdad had a WS6 2002 Trans Am that my mom loved…he (regretfully) sold it when my little brother came along in 05.
I hope we all know how to pronounce “Brougham” here. The guys on Youtube can’t manage it half the time.
I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t choose this color back in the day, but it is a welcome sight in the sea of today’s drab grays, silvers and blacks. I’ve been seeing more fresh colors on late model cars, even some two tones are showing up. Most of which harken back to the 50’s and 60’s. I like it.
I really enjoyed reading this with my morning coffee. My dad was an immigrant who spoke many European languages, and had spent about 15 years in the UK before moving to the US. His accent was indeterminately universal, and though I don’t suspect he said “sherbert” that pronunciation was quite common. These days, I am a real ice cream fan; I find sherbet or sorbets or ices refreshing, but if I’m going to stand in line and spend money I want creamy butterfat ice cream. However, when I was younger, I loved the sherbets at Baskin-Robbins, especially the Lime Daiquiri flavor. Getting ice cream out (especially at a chain outlet) was a rare treat in our household and there seemed something exotic and illicit about getting a daiquiri at age ten. All this was 10-15 years or so before this Pontiac hit the streets.
Dman, I do love ice cream now. Again. I’m really not supposed to have it, but I “cheat” once in a while and don’t regret it. There is a frozen custard place near me that is super delicious, but I suspect the calorie count would be something like half of my daily intake for one cone. Of course, making that determination kind of defeats the escapist point of enjoying such a treat.
Going back to Baskin-Robbins, maybe “Lime Daiquiri” is the flavor I liked!
I haven’t got anything to add (which is probably a good thing at this point) as to the pronounciation of the subject frozen treat (is it a quiescently frozen confection? Saw that on many such treats as a child and still don’t know what it means); I do have the following comment on the car –
But for the emblem on the front, I never would have known it was a Pontiac. Seems like a blend of Chevrolet and Cadillac. How far GM had strayed from the division identifiers of the 60’s, by 1979!
I’m reminded of a rare Vauxhall colour, ‘guacamole’
That’s guacamole? No offense, but I think it must be based on a recipe that has only enough avocado, not even ripe at that, to meet the minimum standard to be labeled guacamole.
I like that they named that color “Guacamole”, even if it’s not quite as rich a color as I would associate with guac. It’s festive, anyway, and yes – it does look similar to the color of this Bonneville.
In 1975 one of my uncles and his wife showed up at our house with a new 1975 Pontiac Catalina painted with a color called “Seafoam Green”-it was a hideous pastel grey green that reminded me of pond scum and I always thought should have been named “Exorcist Pea Soup Green.” The interior-fabric, plastics and vinyl were variations of the same nauseous color. If someone had given me a serving of ice cream that color I would have thrown up.
Apparently, the color was none to popular I only recall seeing one other car that color, an Oldsmobile cutlass.
Really nice writeup as always, Joseph. I always enjoy your food and drink analogies to the cars you’ve captured. Indeed, not many new cars today could rock that key lime green!
Where I come from, Colorado, we would pronounce it “sher-beh”. There isn’t really a CO accent, it is really just the average of all North American accents. But now that I am a foreigner where I now live, I take more notice of how I speak, and one thing about Coloradoans is we tend to drop the “t”‘s at the middle and end of words, also known as a gluttural stop. So better is pronounced “bedder”. Or “it is out in the Toyota” would be pronounced “i… is ou… in the Toyoduh.”
Corey, the glottal stop is very common in places I’ve lived. I’m trying to think of an example… It’s too early in the morning!
I enjoy a lot of the old-school BBC “Britcoms”, and one of them I used to watch a lot (before hitting a temporary saturation point) was “Are You Being Served?” A couple of the characters, and right now I’m thinking of Miss Brahms and her Cockney accent, was glottal stop on everything – like 50% of her consonants got pronounced, but it was charming.
The next time I phone my friend Melanie in Denver, I’m going to have to pay closer attention to how she sounds. 🙂
Love this story! Here in South Africa the farmers drive Forrrt [Ford], I-Joo-Joo [Isuzu] and Tay-oh-ta [Toyota] bakkies, oh, and when I was growing up Peugeot was always Pee-jo. We’re still mangling the brand names, there are so many ways we pronounce Hyundai I’m not even going there.. And remember we have eleven official languages, so we have a whole kaliadascope of choices!
Hyundai – ha!
When the brand was introduced to Australia the first ads said “Say Hi to Hi-oon-die”. Then the ads suddenly disappeared. Apparently that pronunciation was not only wrong, but had some negative connotation or meant something uncomplimentary in Korean. I always wondered how the ad agency – or was it the importer? – could get the company name wrong.
Thank you, Pikesta. I also tend to stay away from any fancy pronunciations of “Hyundai”. I remember at one point I had learned to default to “Hyundai rhymes with ‘Sunday'”, so I stuck with that, and I don’t recall ruffling any feathers.
Count me as another “sherbert” guy, with my formative years spent in Massachusetts, Indiana and Illinois. No matter how it is pronounced, I will eat almost any flavor of sherbet.
I do remember that Willow Mist color being very common in the Chicago suburbs back in the day, which was prime Pontiac (and Buick and Oldsmobile) territory. The featured Bonneville reminds me of my high school English teacher, who had a two-door Bonneville sedan with a vinyl half roof in this same color. Another teacher had a 4-door LeMans in Willow Mist, which actually looked really sharp with the Pontiac road wheels and whitewalls.
Anything lemon or lime is fine with me: candy, ice cream, or colors. OK, I don’t like bright yellows, but I love the color on this Bonneville. The car’s not so bad either; it’s one of those models from the late-’70s that’s grown on me over time.
Ah, yes –
I remember this color well.
As others have said, I remember it mostly as the top color (over a darker green) of two-tone Grand Prixes.
I confess I’ve never been a fan of pastel-colored cars at all, be they green, blue, yellow, whatever.
Although it’s not exactly the same, this green reminds me very much of “Parakeet”, Betty White’s ’77 Seville. (Her 99th birthday was yesterday, so she’s been mentioned a lot in the media of late.)
Hers had a white top and white leather, which is the best interior for this color IMO. Any shade of green would be way too much.
As for sherbet, my NE Ohio born-and-raised Mom has always pronounced it “sherbert” too. Also, “syrup” she pronounces as “surp” instead of “sir-up”. IDK if that’s an Ohio or Midwestern thing, or just an individual idiosyncrasy. Anybody else say it that way?
Happy belated birthday, Betty White!! She is a treasure, and I’m please to have learned only today that she had a Seville like this one.
We didn’t say “surp” in our house. That word came out more like “seer-rup”. When I think about it, I can’t really “blame” (that’s not really the word I’m looking for) either side of my family / parent for the way that some of my words came out. LOL There was just so much there to begin with.
Sorry – but I pronounce it as it is spelled, and so did my family in Chicago. We also pronounce “Poinsettia” correctly as well.
My mother was a stickler for proper English.
Don’t get me started on the incorrect pronunciation of “culinary” – that has been sweeping the US since Food Network decided to stop pronouncing it correctly.
“Culinary” uses the same pronunciation as the work “cuticle”.
“Q-lin-ary” – not “cull-in-ary”.
Can we talk about the car now?
The full sized Pontiac was a great car and it was sad when it was discontinued when Pontiac decided to become small car specialists for a year. The Parisienne was a poor substitute for the Bonneville/Catalina.
I always liked this color from GM, it resurfaced on 80’s Oldsmobiles as well, but I couldn’t locate the jpeg file. I prefer COLOR, not pastels, LOL!! 🙂
What a fascinating rabbit-hole you have led us down today, Joseph!
Thanks, Peter. Rabbit holes seem to be my specialty. 🙂
Reminds me of this one I photographed back in 2012.
I had to laugh at the 1979 Pontiac color brochure which “recommends” interior colors for each paint job. “Sure, you can order Mayan Red with a green interior, but I wouldn’t suggest it.”
I literally had to look up the Friendly’s site to discover I’ve been saying sherbert all along while they’ve called it sherbet.
I just reread all the comments on this fantastic essay by Joseph and had to add this !!
Here are some other car colors that remind me of delicious frozen treats:
Back in 1974, Cadillac offered some snazzy exterior colors and bizarre cloth interiors (that looked like they belonged in a Ford Maverick…not a luxury car). In addition to classy Cotillion White, Georgian Silver, or Sable Black you had:
“Mandarin Orange”, often paired with an orange and white plaid interior and white vinyl roof. Now a Caddy in this combination looks just like a rolling creamsicle !!!
“Persian Lime”, often paired with a green and white plaid interior and white vinyl roof. A Caddy in this combination reminds me of lime sherbet, but not the type you’d get from Baskins-Robbins, but rather the one you’d buy in the 1/2 gallon container at the grocery store, topped with a little Cool Whip.
My parents had a 1974 Coupe deVille. Unfortunately it wasn’t in either of those luscious colors. It was Andes Cooper with a terra cotta leather interior and white Cabriolet roof. A classy looking car.
My mother had a 79 Bonneville when I was a kid…white with a blue landau top and the rare 3-speed auto with floor mounted shifter. That car is a family legend…when my brother and I finally got our licenses in the mid-late 80s we beat the hell out of that car and it took it all in stride. NY road salt finally killed her in the mid 90s but to this day my brother and I talk about buying one.
And we always pronounced it “sherbert”…I didn’t realize it was actually “sherbet” until I was in my 40s, lol!
Not sure the Bonneville was available with buckets and a floor shift, but I could be wrong.
I bought a new 78 Bonneville 4dr. Black with red interior. Very nice car but I wished I’d have gotten the 350 instead of the 301.
I had a ’79 Bonneville coupe with console, floor shift and bucket seats. It also had a full gauge package, moonroof, cruise, a/c, trunk release and power seats and windows.
It had the Olds 350, and I still miss that car to this day.
I stand corrected!
I own a tuxedo in this exact color, and it’s of approximately this vintage. It’s made from double-knit polyester, naturally. I purchased it in the 90s when a local tuxedo rental store was clearing their attic of stuff nobody would rent ever again.
There are occasions in this life where a gentleman must wear a tuxedo, but nobody ever said it had to be black!
Amen to that!