Parents often name their babies after the things they love—from characters in movies, reality TV, and video games right down to their favorite foods.
The parenting website BabyCenter recently released its report on baby name trends in the US. The report is based on hundreds of thousands of names that parents provide the website each year. Given that about 4 million babies are born annually in the US, BabyCenter’s list of the most popular baby names is neither comprehensive nor nationally representative. Still, it’s fun.
This year’s findings suggest that parents are increasingly inspired by the wellness movement. Names related to spiritual practices like yoga or meditation, like Peace, Harmony, or Hope, have risen in popularity, and so have names tied to healthy food trends. Say hello to the age of Baby Kale.
“As fast food and processed snacks lose ground to clean eating and Paleo diets, more Gen Z and Millennial parents are choosing baby names that reflect their love of healthy foods,” BabyCenter explains in its press release. For girls, parents are increasingly picking names like Kale, Kiwi, Maple, Hazel, Clementine, Sage, Saffron, and Rosemary. Names like Saffron, Sage, and Hazel are also on the rise for boys.
It’s a trend that’s been underway for some time. Bon Appétit Magazine published a feature in 2014 that found that this is far from a new phenomenon: “Turns out, parents have been giving their kids grocery-inspired names for just about as long as there have been babies (or at least since 1880, which is when the US government started keeping track of them).” Take the name Kale, for example:
“Looks like kale has been America’s darling for longer than we originally thought—the name was first used in 1962. And while we were not surprised to learn that the highest concentration of little Kales can currently be found in California (#agriculture), we were intrigued to learn that the first baby Kale was born in Kansas. It’s been gaining popularity since 2005—quite possibly due to the leafy green’s parallel rise to prominence. Can Watercress and Mizuna be far behind?”
If you are a die-hard fan of crunchy greens, or just want to check out some of these names for yourself, here is BabyCenter’s popular baby names category. There’s also a baby name visualizer that lets you see where the popularity of these names is rising and falling across the US.
Some observers have remarked that food-inspired baby names are the latest examples of parents attempting to out-do one another in naming their children. Call it competitiveness or race-to-the-bottom, but examples abound, from Gwyneth Paltrow naming her daughter Apple to Gwen Stefani calling her son Zuma Nesta Rock. Writing in The Spectator, Mark Mason describes this new naming frenzy:
“Naming your child was once simple: You picked from the same handful of options everyone else used. But modern parents want exclusivity. And so boys are called Rollo, Emilio, Rafferty and Grey. Their sisters answer to Aurelia, Bartolomea, Ptarmigan or Plum. Throw in a few middle names and the average birth certificate looks like an earthquake under a Scrabble board.”
But if recent food baby name trends are any indication, Rafferty and Bartolomea are positively traditional. So, let’s hope the buck stops there—and we don’t start to name our kids “fish oil” or “chia seed.”