These baby names are one-hit wonders in the U.S. baby name data. That is, they’ve only popped up once, ever, in the entire dataset of U.S. baby names (which accounts for all names given to at least 5 U.S. babies per year since 1880).
There are thousands of one-hit wonders in the dataset, but the names below have interesting stories behind their single appearance, so these are the one-hits I’m writing specific posts about. Just click on a name to read more. (Names that aren’t links yet have posts coming soon!)
The Social Security Administration’s annual baby name list only includes names given to 5 or more U.S. babies, of either one gender or the other, per year.
Most rare names never make the list, but a select group have appeared a single time. I like to call these the one-hit wonder baby names.
One-hit wonders tend to pop up with a relatively low number of babies — 5 or 6 — but a handful are given to dozens of babies…only to disappear again the next year! Intriguing, no?
Below are the highest-charting, gender-specific, one-hit wonder names for every year on record before 2013. (We won’t know which 2013 names are one-hit wonders until later lists come out.) The format is: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.”
I thought it was just a variant of Cookie until I did some research. Turns out that Kookie was a hipster character played by Edward Byrnes on the detective show 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964). He worked as a valet parking attendant at the club next door to the detectives’ office. The character quickly became a cultural phenomenon:
Constantly combing his glossy, duck-tailed hair and speaking in what was called ‘jive talk’, Gerald Lloyd Kookson III – ‘Kookie’ to his friends — helped Stu and Jeff out on their cases and stole the show. Teenage girls went wild for Kookie and his fan mail reached 10,000 letters a week. A glossary was issued for those who wanted to learn his language which included such young dude phrases as, ‘let’s exitville’ (let’s go), ‘out of print’ (from another town), ‘piling up the Z’s’ (sleeping), ‘a dark seven’ (a depressing week) and ‘headache grapplers’ (aspirin) – all soon copied by youth worldwide.
This popularity led to Kookie-branded merchandise, including “Kookie’s Comb.”
Byrnes also appeared in-character as Kookie on other TV shows and in advertisements (such as a series of Harley-Davidson ads for the Topper motor scooter).
Most impressively, Edward Byrnes became a top-10 recording artist with the release of the 1959 novelty song “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb” (vid), a duet with Connie Stevens that reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2005, TV Guide ranked the top 25 teen idols of all time. Edward “Kookie” Byrnes came in 5th. (John Travolta came in 3rd. Michael J. Fox came in 23rd.)
Source: Lewis, Jon E. and Penny Stempel. Cult TV: The Essential Critical Guide. London: Pavilion Books, 1996.
The TV show Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983) was a Happy Days spin-off that focused on the characters Joanie Cunningham (sister of Richie) and Charles “Chachi” Arcola (cousin of Fonzie).
Joanie Loves Chachi didn’t last long, but it did make an impact on expectant parents.
In 1982, not only did the baby name Chachi show up in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time, but the baby name Joanie was boosted back into the top 1,000 one last time:
Usage of Chachi
Usage of Joanie
86 baby girls
129 baby girls
9 baby boys [debut]
176 baby girls [rank: 876th]
130 baby girls
132 baby girls
Later that year, though, ABC’s Joanie Loves Chachi got destroyed (ratings-wise) by NBC’s The A-Team. Chachi never appeared on the charts again, and Joanie went downhill until it fell off the SSA’s list entirely (i.e., was given to fewer than five baby girls) in 2008.