The REAL Reason It's called HUEL - According to YOU

I’ve been using Huel daily for a couple of years now and partly credit it for me losing 35kg during the first UK lockdown - although I think that was mostly due to the pubs being shut! The one and only thing that I (still) don’t like about the product is its name.

There’s nothing wrong with the word ‘Huel’ in itself, it’s the etymology (where the brand name came from) I don’t like. The official line is that it’s a portmanteau/shortening of the phrase ‘human fuel’ which I consider to be cringey Hoxton neckbeard hipster style naming (sorry - personal taste).

Consequently, whenever friends ask why it’s called Huel - which is a surprisingly common first question on learning that I drink/eat it (proving the branding is strong if cringesome) - I’m too embarrassed to tell the truth and just say I don’t know.

However… On reading a book on linguistics this morning (as you do) I discovered that ‘huel’ is also an ancient Aztec word meaning fully/completely. From now on I will use this as the explanation for the product’s name when people ask, even though I know it’s not the official line.

So my question to you, Dear Forum, is what do you say when people ask why it’s called Huel? Do you give them the ‘human fuel’ explanation? Say you don’t know? Or have you invented your own reason?

I’m sure the company probably wouldn’t mind (too much) if people did just make up their own explanation for the name, eg off the top of my head…

  • It’s a phonetic shortening of the friendly greeting (and doctor’s opening line) “you well?”
  • It’s an acronym for Healthy Upbeat Energetic Lifestyle.
  • It was invented on Huelin Beach in Malaga when the creator wanted a change after two weeks of paella.
  • It was named after the Brangelina-esque gossip mag name for the creator’s favourite past celebrity couple, HUgh Grant and ELizabeth Hurley.
  • It’s the Klingon word for oats.

…and so on. I’m going with the Aztec explanation. You?

It’s called Huel because nothing else was called Huel before it, so online search engines will always give the correct result when searching for ‘Huel’. You can check the mess yourself if it was called ‘Eat’ or ‘Food’ or ‘Feed’.

Also I see nothing wrong with ‘Human Fuel’, it’s just like ‘Car Fuel’. And just like we shorten ‘Car Fuel’ to ‘Gas’ or ‘Petrol’, we can shorten ‘Human Fuel’ to ‘Huel’.

We don’t shorten ‘car fuel’ to ‘Cuel’ though.

I like the name ‘Huel’. I just don’t like the official explanation because I’m not a fan of hipsters (people who eat £10 bowls of Frosties in Clerkenwell cafes) which it’s reminiscent of to me. I know that my mates are similarly hipster-averse and would cringe if I told them the reason for the name. I want them to get into Huel themselves (rather than be put off by the name) hence it’s better for everyone if I use a different explanation or say I don’t know.

As I state in my post this is just my personal taste - I know plenty of people have very different opinions on hipsterdom or cafes selling £10 bowls of Frosties wouldn’t exist.

Re coming up with something that nothing else is named after as a primary motivation: Well, technically several actual people are named Huel. It has been in use as a surname (primarily in South America) for hundreds of years, albeit not a widespread one - there are only a couple of thousand people with that surname at present. For a name that absolutely nothing has previous been called I’d suggest ‘Jktshhjdkll’ which doesn’t match anything at all on Google :wink:

could have been (much) worse - it was almost called Hibble at one point. The brevity of the name suits the branding and brand recognition well - so it’s probably a good thing we didn’t end up with Human Kibble.


I don’t have any hang-ups around the name Huel or the explanation of what it stands for. I don’t eat Frosties either, never have.

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I still chuckle about Hibble.

Really like being able to explain that it’s Human Fuel. I’ve been asked why I don’t eat “proper food” before and I just look at them vaguely confused and say “err I do”…

My best friend Alix is a dreadful eater, she’s stick thin but munches kebabs and all sorts of junk food (because it’s so crap is probably the reason she stays so slender!) but when we chat - which is basically every day because we don’t really have other friends - she always tells me what nonsense she is having for her and her daughter that day for dinner and that part of the conversation almost always ends with “I suppose you’re eating Huel again”.

At one point she was explaining it to someone we were out for lunch with because it was the first time she’d seen me eat anything other than Huel for about six months and I was delighted to hear her going into full detail about what Huel is, even though she doesn’t eat it herself very often. So it is simply so easy to explain, that’s one of the reasons I like the name.

I don’t know anything about the hipster subculture or the terminology they use. Is ‘Human Fuel’ really such an “alternative” way of describing food for humans?

its also very difficult to come up with a brand name that isn’t going to offend someone somewhere in the world when its translated. Huel seems to dodge this with several languages other than the Nahuatl you mentioned having translations of it, but none with any particularly offensive or negative outcomes.

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Yeah international brands are a nightmare for naming even at the best of times.

When the law firm DLA became DLA Piper after a merger, no one in the UK or US gave it a moments thought. In Holland however it was met with a combination of shock and laughter.

The word Piper means something very different over there, without going into detail, it describes a particular sexual act…


Different people have different ideas of what a hipster is, but for me I envisage a 30 year old bearded shaven headed man wearing a heavy parka with shorts on an electric scooter on the pavement swigging from an £11 can of New England IPA and smoking black cherry vape juice from a steampunk styled e-pipe whilst listening ironically to Status Quo demos on a £1,000+ audiophile MP3 player. If I was to imagine what such a person would call food then ‘human fuel’ would be pretty much top of the list tbf.

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Same thing happened to Kraft Foods when they wanted to split the company up and paid a branding agency a small fortune to come up with an entirely fabricated name for the new company to avoid any unpleasantness. Shortly after the new name Mondelez was presented to the world - it was made apparent that this is phonetically the same as a Russian slang for oral sex. To ‘save face’ the story was pushed out that the portmanteau name had been concocted by two employees in an internal competition.

Yea it’s funny how names can mean something else. My husband is a model railwayer and calls himself the growler (an old train name apparently). He has been told by Americans it means something horrible there (faecal matter). :rofl:

Blockquote My husband is a model railwayer and calls himself the growler (an old train name apparently). He has been told by Americans it means something horrible there (faecal matter).

Well, in the UK “growler” is slang for female genitals :rofl:

Growler is a slang term in the UK for ladyparts. (It has been used as such in NZ/Oz for decades, but has only really taken off in that sense in the UK in the past 10 years or so due to various TV shows and magazines like Viz using it, but it’s growing in usage over here quite fast. Its usage as the name for a takeaway beer container - originally in the US but now popularised by UK craft brew pubs - is also growing, so it’s one of those words that means more and more things in more places as time passes.)

Ha ha. Bet he doesn’t no that. Yea I just looked up the definition and there are many. I’ll just let him enjoy his trains as he probably used the name in all innocence. :thinking:

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Trouble is, whatever word or words you care to use, someone, somewhere will have changed it to something that means something else. Usually uncomplimentary.


Heh. I love it when people are so innocent about this sort of thing.

When my grandmother was approaching 100 she started forgetting words. We were having a small gathering at her house and my older brother was joking about stealing something from her plate. Bless her, she couldn’t remember the word punch so she threatened to err fist him. And shook her fist!

The best bit about that I is that it was only my brother and I who were so utterly shocked. Parents, aunts and uncles, all in their 70s had noooo idea…


According to a post I read on this forum, Huel means dick in Russian.

As Huel says “don’t be a dick” that’s even more funny.

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only if you say it quick enough or in a Geordie accent :slight_smile: - the pronunciation is khuy (who-i ?)

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The Growler was a name for an infamous old tow truck in Somerset that was used to tow travellers from Glastonbury. There was later a famous food stall at Glastonbury Festival which served a tasty non-vegan treat called a growler.

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