Dan Rodricks gets it absolutely right in his commentary in the Baltimore Sun.
“Hon” isn’t unique to Denise Whiting, no matter how special she wants us to believe she is. Some linguists say it might not even be unique to Baltimore. But Baltimore took possession of “Hon” at some point in its history and anyone who would step up and claim ownership of it should be quickly booed off the stage, thank you very much.
A term of endearment, that’s all, “Hon” is something that makes Baltimore a bit different from Everyplace Else, USA. It might not be part of everyone’s greeting — there’s a history around here of African-Americans and feminists finding it offensive — but it was poured into the pot a long time ago and survives as a provincialism that distinguishes this city and the communities adjoining it from all other metropolitan areas. You can hear, “You want fries with that?” anywhere in the United States. Only in and near Baltimore do you hear, “You want fries with that, hon?”
Ms. Whiting is a very smart businesswoman, and has done a pretty good job of using a (wonderful) local linguistic trait to make a living, and celebrate the word ‘hon’ as well. I supported her in her fight with the city over her pink flamingo along with many Baltimoreans.
This is how she thanks us.
Cafe Hon isn’t all that great a place to eat. Never has been. It was the theme, the kitchiness of it that drew people in. Well, no more. Trademark “Cafe Hon”. Trademark “HonFest”. I’m all for it. You invented them, you protect them and profit from them. But you don’t own “Hon”, hon.