Monday, November 12, 2018
Bizarre News

Hold the Mayo! Florida town is changing its name temporarily

ORLANDO — Mayo, Fla., is holding the mayo, at least for a few days.

The mayor of this tiny town of less than 1,500 residents, located where Florida’s Panhandle morphs into a peninsula, was announcing Saturday that the city is switching its name to "Miracle Whip." But it’s a joke.

The name change started as a secret, tongue-in-cheek marketing proposal for the Kraft Heinz-owned mayonnaise-alternative. Videographers for Miracle Whip wanted to capture the shock of residents when they hear that the name of their town is being changed to a corporate brand. Representatives of the condiment planned to spend the next few days filming their jocular efforts to get residents to remove mayonnaise from their homes.

The town’s elected officials say they will let residents in on the joke after a few days, but not before street signs and the name on the water tower have been switched out. The town, located halfway between Tallahassee and Gainesville, is getting between $15,000 and $25,000 for the name change, and the money will be used for city beautification measures.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mayo’s mayor ran with the concept, insisting it would be a good idea to make the name change permanent.

"We aren’t going to be boring Mayo anymore. We are going to be Miracle Whip!" Ann Murphy said. "I definitely think this will put us on the map."

Town clerk Linda Cone confirmed the name change is a prank and conceded that in a town so small it probably won’t take long for residents to figure it out. "Everybody knows everybody. It’s been kind of difficult to keep everything under wraps," Cone said.

The mayor said City Council members secretly discussed the deal with Miracle Whip during a closed session because secrecy was needed to achieve the surprise that Miracle Whip wants to capture. However, a closed session would seem to violate Florida’s Sunshine Law requiring meetings to be held publicly except under limited conditions, open-government advocate Barbara Petersen said.

"If this is all supposed to be a big joke perpetuated on residents, I expect they probably violated the law to pull it off," said Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation. "I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but seriously, I don’t think they thought this through."

The town got its original name from a Confederate colonel, James Mayo, and it is the county seat of Lafayette County, Florida’s second-least populous county. Possibly its biggest claim to fame is being the hometown of Kerwin Bell, a former University of Florida quarterback. The area’s biggest employer is a state prison.

Other small cities have changed their names to brands, some temporarily and others permanently.

In 1950, Hot Springs, N.M., renamed itself Truth or Consequences in order to get the game show broadcast from the town. Granville, N.D., temporarily became McGillicuddy City in the 1990s after the distributor of the mint schnapps paid the town $100,000. In 2010, Topeka, Kan., temporarily changed its name to Google in an unsuccessful effort to get the company to install a super-fast broadband network.

"I think people thought it was kind of funny and forward thinking," said Carole Jordan, an official with the League of Women Voters in Topeka.

Branded name changes don’t work for every city, said Chantal Panozzo, chief content officer for the Brand Consultancy. She said one successful example was North Tarrytown, N.Y.’s switch to Sleepy Hollow in the mid 1990s to honor its roots as the setting for Washington Irving’s story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

"If the town or corporation is just seeking notoriety, publicity or money without considering what the alignment of the naming really means, then it’s not true branding," Panozzo said. "It’s just a stunt or a desperate cry for funds."

Comments
Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene of a suspicious death at about 8p.m. Monday in the Lake Egypt Estates neighborhood near Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pedestrian killed in crash with wrong-way driver while loading bicycle onto PSTA bus

Pedestrian killed in crash with wrong-way driver while loading bicycle onto PSTA bus

Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the death of a pedestrian who was killed by an out-of-control vehicle while hitching a bicycle to the front of a county bus.
Updated: 4 hours ago
Hillsborough Sheriff's Office spurns ICE agreement but is still holding immigrants for the agency

Hillsborough Sheriff's Office spurns ICE agreement but is still holding immigrants for the agency

TAMPA — Ten months ago, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister stood among a dozen or so Florida sheriffs to announce a new arrangement with federal immigration officials to deal with a legal quandary.The new agreement with U.S. Immigration and ...
Published: 11/12/18
Judge okays wedding anniversary trip for Lakeland store owner facing murder charge

Judge okays wedding anniversary trip for Lakeland store owner facing murder charge

LAKELAND — A former Lakeland city commissioner charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a man he suspected of shoplifting is on house arrest, but that won't stand in the way of a weekend trip he had planned with his wife next month to Sava...
Published: 11/09/18
Police: Man breaks into crocodile enclosure, gets bitten

Police: Man breaks into crocodile enclosure, gets bitten

A 23-year-old man was injured after breaking into an alligator farm in Florida and jumping into a pond full of crocodiles, police said.
Published: 11/07/18
A Delta passenger sat in poo. The plane took off despite his pleas.

A Delta passenger sat in poo. The plane took off despite his pleas.

He asked the crew for help, expecting perhaps a biohazard kit. Instead, he told WNEM, "I was handed two paper towels and one of those miniature bottles of Bombay Sapphire."
Published: 11/06/18
Woman's mistaken call to a Jimmy John's saves her brother

Woman's mistaken call to a Jimmy John's saves her brother

Lisa Nagengast's plane touched down in Tampa on Saturday evening, and the first thing she did before getting out of her seat was listen to her voice mail. That was when panic set in.
Published: 10/30/18
St. Pete man lured out 3-foot alligator, beat it with a shovel, deputies say

St. Pete man lured out 3-foot alligator, beat it with a shovel, deputies say

ST. PETERSBURG — A 65-year-old man was arrested Wednesday after deputies said he beat a 3-foot alligator with a shovel.David William Healey said he did it to protect others from the alligator, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.The all...
Updated one month ago
Drunk driver hits 11 vehicles on I-275, including state trooper's car. No one hurt

Drunk driver hits 11 vehicles on I-275, including state trooper's car. No one hurt

ST. PETERSBURG — A drunk driver collided with 11 vehicles along a five-mile stretch of Interstate 275 before he was arrested as he was stopped in traffic after exiting into downtown, the Florida Highway Patrol said.No one one was injured in th...
Updated one month ago
Pasco couple used dead man's identity, bought SUV with stolen check, deputies say

Pasco couple used dead man's identity, bought SUV with stolen check, deputies say

Everyone knew him as Gary, but Gary's been dead for almost a year. Deputies said Jeffrey Mirick stole Gary Ridgeway's identity. Then he stole a check and used it to buy an SUV.
Updated one month ago