Activist investor Nelson Peltz takes a jab at Mondelez's name; 'it sounds like a disease'

  • Article by: CANDICE CHOI , AP Food Industry Writer
  • Updated: July 17, 2013 - 5:20 PM

NEW YORK — Oreo cookie maker Mondelez was poked for its made-up name again — this time during a highly anticipated interview on CNBC.

Activist investor Nelson Peltz made headlines on Wednesday when he revealed his plans to push PepsiCo Inc. to shed its beverage unit and buy Mondelez International Inc., a deal that would create a global snack food powerhouse by bringing together PepsiCo's Frito-Lay unit with the chocolate, gum and cookies sold by Mondelez.

His remarks likely sent up stress levels at the headquarters of the two companies. But Peltz also took a jab at the Mondelez moniker, which he flat-out said he hated.

"It sounds like a disease — 'suffering from Mondelez,'" he scoffed.

Executives at Mondelez, which separated from Kraft Foods last year, are likely accustomed to the mockery by now.

After the name was revealed last spring, for example, one business publication observed that it bears close resemblance to a vulgar Russian term for a sex act. The company had to explain that the name was pronounced "mon-dah-LEEZ," unlike the Russian term. The New York Post summarized its reaction with the headline "MONDEWHAAAT?"

The Deerfield, Ill., company, for its part, has said the name is a mash-up of the Latin words for "world" and "delicious." The name was picked through a months-long process, which started with an internal company contest for suggestions, the hiring of an outside branding firm and extensive consumer testing.

Of course, it's too early to say what the name of a merged PepsiCo and Mondelez would be — if the deal were to even happen. But PepsiCo's name isn't so popular lately either. Even as it tries to expand into healthier offerings, for example, the company is named after a soda, which has come under fire for fueling obesity rates.

In addition, PepsiCo's namesake soda has been losing market share in recent years. In 2010, Diet Coke knocked Pepsi off its perch to become the No. 2 soda in the country, according to Beverage Digest.

Pepsi is now No. 3, with Coke remaining No. 1.

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