The Flatte Project: Fame comes calling

Major triumph for “flatte” this week. Three major triumphs, in fact.

At one cafe in Chicago last week, the flatte was the drink of the day.

Victory #1: Flatte made its first major media splash this week on the podcast How To Do Everything. Hosts Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag (who are also the producers of NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.”) tested flatte’s mettle with lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower. Sheidlower is an editor at large for the Oxford English Dictionary. They also took flatte to the streets, test marketing it at a Chicago cafe.

Listen to an excerpt from HTDE,
in which Mike and Ian put flatte to the test

Now, the news isn’t all good. Ian, Mike and Jesse think I have a tough road ahead. The word might be just fine, but my neologistic dream might become a nightmare thanks to the product – who drinks decaf lattes anyway? Is this a case of a good word for a bad item?

I’ll respond to those questions another day. Today I’m focusing on flatte’s international media coverage.


Victory #2: An editor at large for the Oxford English Dictionary has now uttered the word “flatte.” I recall a scene in the Lord of the Rings where Gandalf concludes that Sauron has become aware of the name “Baggins.” I still get a shiver of fear when I think about the terrifying fact of that awareness. Having “flatte” cross the lips of an OED editor provides an opposite but equally powerful thrill – a lord of the lexicon has been stirred by the word.


Victory #3: I set out measures of success when I started this project. The very first one was, “seeing flattes available by name on a chalkboard menu or equivalent.”

Check out that photo at the top of this post! That’s a pic from a Chicago cafe that I’ve never been to, sent to me by the folks at How To Do Everything. Honestly, I thought it would take years to get to that point in the project. So nobody ordered one – who cares? That’s my word!

Jesse said it right – “flatte” will only make it into the dictionary if people use it. So, I exhort you one more time, friends: Please give “flatte” a try. Say “flatte” three times, in context, in good faith. It’s all I ask. (Though I’d also love it if you told me how it goes.) After that, let it live or die. If you never say it again, it wasn’t meant to be. I can handle that. But if it lives on, well then, my friends, we will have done something grand.

The road ahead may indeed be difficult. But I am going the distance.