How popular is the baby name Cindy in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Cindy and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Cindy.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Cindy

Number of Babies Named Cindy

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Cindy

What Caused the Kalene Spike of ’93?

A couple of months ago, I got an email from someone who wanted to know why the baby name Kalene saw so much usage all of a sudden in 1993.

usage of baby name kalene spiked in 1993

That year, the name reached the the top 1,000 for the first and only time. So did Kaylene.

Other Kalene-like names also saw higher usage in 1993, and at least one of them (Kaylean) was a newbie in the data.

Year Kalene Kaylene Kayleen
1995 41 110 147
1994 85 144 157
1993 204 [peak] 197 [peak] 163
1992 24 91 119
1991 7 77 139

I’d figured out the causes of similar spikes for similar names (Kaleena, Kaelin, Katina), but hadn’t gotten around to Kalene yet.

So I did some research. And I didn’t come up with anything useful until I found myself on the Kalene page of a random baby name site where several people happened to mention the same Hooked on Phonics commercial:

  • “…I seen a Hooked on Phonics Commercial…”
  • “…my mom got it off of the hooked on phonics commercial…”
  • “…I too saw the name on the Hooked On Phonics commercial…”
  • “…My mom got it off the commercial in the 1990’s…”
  • …”My mom named me Kalene because she saw it on tv…”
  • “…my name was originally Christie but my mom saw a ‘hooked on phonics’ commercial about a month after i was born and she changed my name…”

One of my favorite things ever is discovering cheesy pop culture enshrined in the baby name data (excellent example: Kebrina), so finding out that a Hooked on Phonics commercial influenced U.S. baby names was pretty epic for me.

Is this Kalene??
Since that point, I’ve been searching for that specific Hooked on Phonics commercial featuring Kalene.

On YouTube I found a segment of a Hooked on Phonics commercial with a Cindy Brady-esque little girl (at right). She seemed promising…but the segment didn’t include her name on-screen.

That said, I did find a discussion thread from the 1990s — a cool piece of internet history in and of itself — that independently verified the existence of a Hooked on Phonics commercial featuring a girl named Kalene. So that was helpful.

(The search for a decades-old commercial is reminding me of our adventures with Deneen.)

So I’m not sure whether or not we’ve found Kalene yet, but one of the other Hooked on Phonics commercials I saw spotlighted a girl named Kia:

hooked on phonics, kia, 1993
“Hooked on Phonics” Kia

And, like Kalene, the name Kia saw its highest-ever usage in 1993, reaching 648th place in the national rankings. (The first Kia cars that were sold in the U.S. weren’t available until early 1994.)

  • 1995: 211 baby girls named Kia
  • 1994: 229 baby girls named Kia
  • 1993: 344 baby girls named Kia
  • 1992: 247 baby girls named Kia
  • 1991: 253 baby girls named Kia

…So now we have two Hooked on Phonics-influenced baby names. Amazing.

Question of the Day: Do you remember any other names from old Hooked on Phonics commercials? The company was advertising heavily on TV back in the 1990s — that much I remember — but I can’t recall any specific names from the commercials. Please leave a comment if you can think of any!

Sindee: Boosted by C-Section Baby?

Sindee Roberta Neilson, 1957, news
Baby Sindee Neilson, early 1957
In yesterday’s post on Cindylou, we talked about how the name Cindy was at peak trendiness in 1957.

But even that trendiness can’t quite explain the magnitude of the 1957 debut of Sindee, which tied with Maverick in terms of usage:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 9 baby girls named Sindee
  • 1958: 9 baby girls named Sindee
  • 1957: 32 baby girls named Sindee [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

On-trend Sindee might have debuted that year anyway, but it wouldn’t have hit as high without the national news coverage of Sindee Roberta Neilson, born in January to Suzanne and Robert Neilson of Hartsdale, New York. Her birth was notable because it was Mrs. Neilson’s eighth caesarean section delivery — not technically a record at the time, but still a “very rare” occurrence.

Mrs. Neilson had a ninth C-section in 1959. Six of her nine babies lived past birth, but the only other names I could track down were Sherry and Suzanne (who is holding the camera in that photo).

What are your thoughts on the name Sindee? Do you like that spelling?

Sources:

  • Baby Makes History; Child Is Woman’s 8th Delivered by Caesarean Section.” New York Times 11 Jan. 1957: 13.
  • “After Her Eighth Caesarian.” Daily Banner [Greencastle, Indiana] 21 Jan. 1957: 3.
  • “Ninth Caesarean.” Daily Review [Decatur, Illinois] 17 Apr. 1959: 5.

Did Cindy-Lou Who Inspire a Debut?

seuss, grinch
Cindy-Lou Who
The compound first name Cindylou (probably written “Cindy Lou” by most people) first appeared in the Social Security Administration’s baby name data in 1957:

  • 1959: 10 baby girls named Cindylou
  • 1958: 6 baby girls named Cindylou
  • 1957: 7 baby girls named Cindylou [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: unlisted

In a sense, this debut isn’t too surprising. The name Cindy, already trendy, saw a massive jump in usage the same year:

  • 1959: 16,967 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 25th]
  • 1958: 16,582 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 25th]
  • 1957: 20,258 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 19th]
  • 1956: 9,989 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 37th]
  • 1955: 5,589 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 79th]

The spellings Cindie, Cindee, and Cindye also saw peak usage in 1957, as did the name Cynthia.

The cause was the catchy song “Cindy, Oh Cindy,” two versions of which reached the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1956 and early 1957. The one by Vince Martin and The Tarriers peaked at 12th, while the one by Eddie Fisher* peaked at 10th. Television audiences also heard the song: Perry Como sang it on his own show in November 1956, and Vince Martin sang it on The Steve Allen Show a month later.

Getting back to Cindylou, though…there are some possible outside influences for the debut of Cindylou specifically. The most intriguing is Cindy-Lou Who (“who was no more than two”) from the beloved Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which was published simultaneously in Redbook magazine and as a standalone book in December of 1957.

Now, Cindy-Lou was a minor character, and the story appeared late in the year — these are strikes against the theory. But, looking at vital records, there do seem to be a few extra people with the first-middle combo “Cindy Lou” born in December of 1957 as opposed to earlier in the year.

It’s likely that Dr. Seuss (or one of his editors) was influenced by the trendiness of the name Cindy that year…but did Cindy-Lou Who in turn give a bump to the name Cindylou? What are your thoughts on this?

*Later in 1957, Eddie Fisher’s wife, Debbie Reynolds, scored an even bigger hit with “Tammy.” Around the same time, their daughter, Carrie — who went on to play Princess Leia in Star Wars — had her first birthday.

P.S. The Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” (1957) was originally called “Cindy Lou,” incidentally.

The Baby Name Peggysue

Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly, 1958
In September of 1957, the classic rock and roll song “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly came out. (This was just a few months after the doo wop song “Deserie” was released.)

“Peggy Sue” was on the Billboard Top 100 for 22 weeks in late 1957 and early 1958, reaching as high as the #3 spot.

Right on cue, the compound baby name Peggysue debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1958:

  • 1962: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
  • 1961: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
  • 1959: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
  • 1958: 7 baby girls named Peggysue [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

The name Peggy by itself also saw a significant increase in usage that year:

  • 1961: 6,434 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 69th]
  • 1959: 7,408 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 57th]
  • 1958: 10,072 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 42nd]
  • 1957: 7,379 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 62nd]
  • 1956: 7,487 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 63rd]

No doubt many of these Peggys had the middle name Sue.

So how did Buddy Holly chose the name “Peggy Sue” for the song? He didn’t — he wrote a song called “Cindy Lou,” taking the names from his newborn baby niece, Cindy Carol, and Cindy’s mom (Buddy’s sister) Patricia Lou.

But the original song wasn’t working out, so the band experimented with it in the summer of ’57. One of the changes they made was to the name. The rhythmically identical “Peggy Sue” was suggested by drummer Jerry Allison, who was dating a girl named Peggy Sue at the time.

At the end of 1958, Buddy Holly started working on “Peggy Sue Got Married,” one of rock and roll’s first sequel songs. Sadly he didn’t finish the song before February 3, 1959 — the day that he, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.

*

If you were having a baby girl, and you had to name her either Peggy Sue or Cindy Lou, which combination would you choose?

I prefer...

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Sources: ‘Peggy Sue’: NPR, Who Was Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue”?, Patricia Lou Holley-Kaiter (Obit) – Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Should We Name Hurricanes to Maximize Donations?

hurricaneIn 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)

A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:

In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.

I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.

I would go about choosing the names differently, though.

Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).

But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.

I might even try optimizing based on demographics. Baby boomers are particularly generous donors, so maybe we should choose letters (or even names) with that generation in mind?

The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):

Top first letters of baby names, 1956, U.S.

Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.

Mid-century style Modern style
Janice
Danny
Rebecca
Martin
Cindy
Scott
Lori
Kenneth
Brenda
Patrick
Theresa
Gerald
Angela
Eugene
Wanda
Vincent
Nancy
Howard
Francine
Ira
Olga
Jasmine
Dominic
Rylee
Matthew
Charlotte
Sebastian
Lucy
Kingston
Bella
Preston
Trinity
Grayson
Ava
Eli
Willow
Victor
Nora
Hunter
Fiona
Isaac
Olivia

And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years (NOAA)

To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).

What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?

Sources: In the “I” of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations, Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid, Tropical Cyclone Programme – WMO
Image: Tropical Cyclone Climatology – National Hurricane Center – NOAA

P.S. While J, D and R were the top initials 60 years ago, today’s top initials are A, J and M.