Paxan Co. Gets Wise

by Nathan Hamm on 1/11/2006 · 3 comments

Paxan has gotten wise to the laughter about one of the more notorious members of its product line. Who among those English who have encountered the magical powder, forget the amusement and puzzlement of seeing Barf for the first time?

Though it is impossible to make out in the picture, Paxan has now saved everyone the trouble of finding a Persian speaker and just put the meaning right on the box in small print.

It’s 2006, people, and I went back to Armenia, and I’m here to tell you: things have changed. Barf is still available, and the packaging still has that exciting ka-pow of blues and oranges, but whispering under the holler of Barf! are the teeny English words “Barf means snow.” That got me thinking about the Tower of Babel: how did it get back to an Iranian manufacturer that in American slang “Barf means vomit”?

It’s a shame that three little words on a box of detergent will deny many future travelers a Mr. Sparkle-eque journey of discovery.

(As a side note, I was a devoted user of Barf in Uzbekistan. Its magic brightness is one of the better arguments I can think of for engagement.)

UPDATE: It’s apparently been on the box for at least a year and a half. And, I also forgot to credit Katy for sending me the link.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Peter January 12, 2006 at 12:31 am

It’s a big world, so other things will come along to replace Barf. Myself, I saw a dry cleaners in Kransovodsk, Turkmenistan, called Anus. I wondered what item I clothes I should take in. I have a photo somewhere that I’ll produce at some point.
Also, while my brother was living in Egypt a few years back, he found a pirate cassette for a band called “Iran Maiden”. Which led him to quip, “Talk about the Ayatollah of rock ‘n’ rolla!”

Jonathan P January 12, 2006 at 1:00 pm

I’ll never forget my first day in Uzbekistan seeing the giant Barf billboard on the corner near Farhod bazaar in Tashkent. The sign featured just the word — no product pictures or anything. I was puzzled to say the least.

I actually thought the Barf line was just about the best stuff available, especially in my earlier years there.

Bryce November 26, 2006 at 7:56 am

When I was in Uzbekistan in 2002, I saw a huge billboard for BARF. I laughed so hard I almost barfed myself. Its advertised everywhere over there.

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