Today’s Zippy is a meditation on commercial -ized:

(in the order of their appearance in English).

First, mercerization, from OED3 (Sept. 2001):

< the name of John Mercer

Textiles. The process of treating cotton yarn or fabric (often under tension) with a concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide or other base, in order to impart strength and lustre and to increase affinity for dyes. After immersion, the yarn is washed with water and acid. [from 1852 on, originally capitalized]

The verb mercerize came later; the OED‘s first cite is from 1911.

So Zippy has been treated with lye (a k a caustic soda) to provide him with strength and luster and make him easy to dye — perhaps purple:

Then simonized. This one ultimately goes back to the proper name Simons, but the immediate source is a trade name. From OED2 on simonize:

< Simoniz proprietary name of a type of car polish

trans. To polish by the application of Simoniz. Also transf. and fig. [from 1934 on, sometimes capitalized

More detail from Wikipedia:

Simoniz is a manufacturer of automobile cleaning and detailing products.

… It was in 1910, when the motor car was still somewhat of an oddity affordable only by the wealthy, that the Simoniz Company came into being. Its formation was made possible by George Simons, who developed a cleaner and a carnauba wax product for car finishes. Along with Elmer Rich of the Great Northern Railway, the two organized the Simons Manufacturing Company. The firm’s products were named Simons Cleaner and Simons Paste Wax.

In 1912, Mr. Rich and his brother, R.J. Rich, acquired full ownership. They changed the name of the firm to Simoniz Company and located the first office and backroom factory at 2121 Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

A believer in the power of advertising, Mr. Rich created what was to become one of the world’s best-known slogans: “Motorists Wise, Simoniz.”

So Zippy has been polished to a sheen.

And then Martinized. From Wikipedia:

Martinizing Dry Cleaning is a dry cleaning franchise founded in 1949. Martin Franchises, Inc., the parent company, is the largest dry cleaning franchise in the United States, with over 600 franchised stores worldwide. The family-owned company is based in Loveland, Ohio. The concept of One Hour Martinizing was pioneered by a New York chemist named Henry Martin in 1949. At the time, drycleaning was done with flammable solvents, so the plants were located remotely from the storefronts. A customer would drop off their cleaning “in town”, the garments would travel to the production facility to be cleaned and pressed, then they would return to the store several days later for pickup. But, by using a non-flammable solvent, the use of which was discovered by Mr. Martin, drycleaning plants could now be located much more conveniently, and the process could be carried out in a much more timely manner.

So Zippy has been taken to the drycleaners for a quick clean-up, as here:

Zippy’s three states of grace.


2 Responses to “Zippyized”

  1. H. S. Gudnason Says:

    But there’s a discordance between the text and the images: The image for “martinized” is clearly Dean Martin. When I saw that, I realized that the “mercerized” is probably a reference to Johnny Mercer, though it doesn’t look much like him. The Simon is a puzzle–clearly not Paul, and of the others that Wikipedia names, Bill would appear to be the only one old enough to wear a hat like the one in the cartoon.

    Nevertheless, it’s a brilliant Griffith exercise in overlapping names.

  2. Cord Wainer Says:

    Yep, another stroke of genius from Griffy.
    But I am also unable to identify that Simon…… maybe it’s his first name?

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