Now business leaders in the commuter town near London are hoping that a name change might dispel its gritty image.
Critics say the rebranding effort would be prohibitively expensive and note the new proposed name - Staines-upon-Thames - also sounds ridiculous.
Local business leader Alex Tribick says underlining the town's location along the River Thames "can only encourage businesses." But Anne Damerell of the Staines Town Society called the idea "pretentious nonsense."
Staines drew nationwide attention as the home of Baron Cohen's wannabe rapper character, "Ali G."