Etymology and marketing
Cheese Weasel informs us that canola oil does not come from canola plants; it comes from rapeseeds. There is no such thing as a canola plant. The rape is a relative of mustard, though the word rape derives from an old Germanic term for turnips. The rape has a venerable history in art and mythology. Who can forget the moving stories of the turnip of the Sabine women and the turnip of Europa?
It seems that when someone began selling oil from rapeseeds, their marketing department decided that “Rape Oil” would have limited appeal and made up a new name for it. “Canola” is short for “Canadian oil.” Heck, I could have called that one; marketing isn’t that hard.