Some people will be surprised to learn that the kiwi fruit (produced by a hybrid of Actinidia deliciosa and other species of that genus) was named after the somewhat similar looking bird of that name (Apterygidae Apteryx) in 1959 as a marketing ploy. Apparently, the fruit had previously been called a ‘Chinese gooseberry’ but that name was seen as overly political during the Cold War. The alternative name ‘melonette’ was problematic because melons faced high import tariffs. The solution dreamt up by the produce company Turners and Growers was thus to brand the fruit with the name of the bird it supposedly resembles. The general association between the bird, the word ‘kiwi,’ and people from New Zealand extends back before 1899. The kiwi bird has been part of the regimental signs of New Zealand Regimentas since the Second Boer War.
The whole thing is reminiscent of the re-branding of Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) as ‘Chilean Sea Bass.’ The intention to alter consumer perceptions of products by changing their names isn’t reserved for agricultural or fishery organizations trying to optimize their sales; some environmentalists are trying to re-brand ‘biodiesel’ with the moniker ‘industrial agrodiesel‘ in order to alter perceptions that this is a green or sustainable fuel.