…in the baby name data!
Taffy isn’t just a type of candy — it’s also a name, and it debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1943:
- 1947: 12 baby girls named Taffy
- 1946: 6 baby girls named Taffy
- 1945: unlisted
- 1944: 5 baby girls named Taffy
- 1943: 6 baby girls named Taffy [debut]
- 1942: unlisted
- 1941: unlisted
Because of Taffy Tucker, a new character introduced in the Terry and the Pirates comic strip during 1942.
Titular character Terry Lee joined the military in 1942, and there he met new people, including Taffy Tucker, an Army nurse, and Flip Corkin, an Army flight instructor (who was also Taffy’s boyfriend).
Taffy Tucker was a “spunky, dedicated nurse, hardworking and tireless, cheerful and caring and always feminine.”
At one point in the storyline, Taffy was kidnapped by a Japanese agent. She was beaten up and left for dead deep in the interior of China. Thankfully, she was eventually rescued by Terry and Flip.
It took cartoonist Milton Caniff about three months to create the character:
[He] spent several days just worrying about a name for Taffy. Since he visualized her as a pert, snub-nosed girl from Georgia, he wanted a name with a typically Old South sound. He finally settled on Guinevere Marianne Tucker, nicknamed Taffy because of her candy-colored hair. She had to be short, because she was scheduled to fall in love with Flip Corkin, who is short, and she had to be blond [sic] for contrast with Flip, who is dark.
Caniff had modeled Taffy after a photo of real-life WWII military nurse Bernice Taylor of Kansas.
What do you think of Taffy as a baby name?
- Happy Birthday ‘Taffy Tucker’
- Harvey, Robert C. Meanwhile…: A Biography of Milton Caniff, Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2007.
- Bainbridge, John. “Significant Sig and the Funnies: Milton Caniff.” Milton Caniff: Conversations. Ed. Robert C. Harvey. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2002.
- The real Flip Corkin: The true story behind the war hero in the Daily News funny pages
P.S. The name Taffy got a slight boost around 1949 thanks to the film The Doctor and the Girl, in which the young Dr. Corday has a love interest named Evelyn “Taffy” Heldon who operates a taffy machine in a candy store.