Wrangler, the ’80s Baby Name Enigma!

The baby name Wrangler debuted on the U.S. baby name charts in 1987.

So here’s the mystery: What caused the debut? Was the name inspired by Wrangler Jeans, or by the Jeep Wrangler? Or both?

The '80s Baby Name Wrangler - Was it inspired by the jeans or the jeep?

Wrangler Jeans, which have been around since the 1940s, were available in trendy, tight-fitting “designer” styles during the ’80s (just like Jordache and Murjani). Wrangler commercials from that time period (e.g., 1, 2, 3) all featured the same catchy “live it to the limit in Wrangler” theme song.

The Jeep Wrangler was introduced in 1986. The Jeep Wrangler ads weren’t as eye-catching as the Wrangler Jeans ads, but it’s hard to overlook the correlation between the year the car came out and the year the name debuted, and the fact that new cars with decent names often do inspire baby name debuts (e.g., Chevelle, Allante, Miata).

My opinion? I think both products had some influence here.

A small number babies born prior to 1987 were named Wrangler, and I’m sure a few of them were named with the Jeans in mind. (Favorite example: James Levi Wrangler Dunlap, born in 1984.)

But I think the Jeep Wrangler is what gave the name enough of a boost in 1987 for us to see it on the baby charts.

What do you think?

(Interestingly, the baby name Wrangler was only on the SSA’s list once in the ’80s and a few more times during the ’90s, but it has appeared consistently on the charts since the turn of the century. Its best showing so far was in 2011, with 16 baby boys named Wrangler that year.)

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