On TikTok, @nisipisa recently mentioned that she “got this dry mouth spray from ‘Consumer Value Stores,’ and the experience of using it is kind of, like, someone who’s in the middle of chewing gum is spitting into your mouth.” Here are the spitting images and video of what that TikToker said:
As of June 16, this video had gotten over 23.3K likes and over 400 comments presumably not because people wanted to have the please-can-someone-spit-in-my-mouth kind of experience. No, most of the comments were about the name “Consumer Value Stores” that @nisipisa had dropped. If you are wondering WTF that is, think about what would you’d get if you were to turn “Consumer Value Stores” into a three-letter acronym.
Can’t you see the CVS in that name? That’s CVS, as in the drug store chain, the mega-healthcare company, and the place where you can buy all those Father’s Day cards. Yes, the CVS in this case does not stand for multiple curriculum vitae. It doesn’t mean “Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry” or “Crazy Vacuum Store” or “Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome” or even “ConVenience Store.”
No, a peek at the CVS Health website will get you to see the true origin of CVS. The website says that in 1963, “the first Consumer Value Store selling health and beauty products is founded in Lowell, Massachusetts. A year later, the name is changed to CVS.” And based on many of the comments under the TikTok video, lots o’ people were today-years-old when they found out that fact.
That’s despite the fact that many people have probably used the name CVS at least some point in their lives as in “My CVS receipt was so long that I could have written the script of the movie Avatar 2 on it” or “When there was a toilet paper shortage, I used my…” well, you get the picture. After all, CVS has become quite a mega-corporation since its early Consumer Value Store days. By the end of 1988 this company had expanded to 750 stores with total sales of nearly $1.6 billion. Over the next two decades, CVS did what many big corporations do these days, acquire other businesses. Their acquisitions included a range of different healthcare-related businesses such as MinuteClinic, thousands of Sav-On and Osco drugstores, Caremark, Coram, Omnicare, Navarro Discount Pharmacy and all of Target’s 1,600 pharmacies and clinics. And in 2018, CVS Health acquired insurance giant Aetna to grow even bigger.
Along the way, Tom Ryan, who served as the CEO of CVS from 1998 until 2011, indicated that he was running the company to provide Convenience, Value, and Service. While these three words could “acronymize” to CVS, they never became an official spelling out of CVS.
CVS isn’t the only acronym that’s become embedded into the American lexicon. Did you realize that 3M has stood for the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company? Or A&W for the last names of the company’s founders: Roy Allen and Frank Wright? How about BMW for Bavarian Motor Works, H&M for Hennes and Mauritz, and REI for Recreational Equipment, Inc.? M&M doesn’t stand for “Mmm, those are yummy.” Instead, it’s short for Mars & Murrie’s. Similarly, PAM Cooking Spray isn’t from someone named Pam. It emerged from Product of Arthur Meyerhoff. And NERF ain’t a nerd who farted. Instead, the acronym came from Non-Expandable Recreational Foam. Then there’s SPAM, which arose from Shoulder of Pork and Ham.
Acronyms can serve as helpful shortcuts so that you don’t have to say something like “Is there a bathroom at the Consumer Value Store,” when you really have to go.