The Wanda-like name Wondra first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1963:
- 1967: unlisted
- 1966: 5 baby girls named Wondra
- 1965: 5 baby girls named Wondra
- 1964: 8 baby girls named Wondra
- 1963: 8 baby girls named Wondra [debut]
- 1962: unlisted
The name Wanda was will seeing strong usage in the mid-1960s (it was in the top 100 until 1966), so it had certainly set the scene for the appearance of Wondra.
But there’s a specific reason why Wondra showed up. And it has to do with flour, believe it or not.
In 1963, the General Mills company, longtime maker of Gold Medal Flour (see Norita), introduced a new version of the flour: Gold Medal Wondra. It was a fine, “instantized” flour created through a process called agglomeration. Instead of forming clumps in liquid, Wondra flour would quickly dissolve — making it useful for gravies and sauces. It also required no sifting.
Most importantly, there was a marketing campaign with a multi-million dollar budget (“the largest ever placed behind a new General Mills product”) that started in mid-August.
Gold Medal’s parent, General Mills, is allocating to [Wondra] one of the biggest new-product budgets ever established. On the schedule are big ads in 175 dailies, repeated commercials on over 150 TV stations, plugs on major network shows (“Empire,” Concentration,” “The Judy Garland Show”) and mentions on newscasts and other daytime TV programs.
After the name dropped out the data in 1967, it returned one last time, in 1979:
- 1980: unlisted
- 1979: 7 baby girls named Wondra
- 1978: unlisted
This was thanks to an unrelated product with the same name: Wondra skin lotion, introduced by P&G during 1977 and apparently on the shelves until at least the mid-1980s.
Wondra lotion — and many of the other name-influencing products I’ve blogged about, like Monchel, Chardon, and Drene — may be gone, but Wondra instant flour is still available today. In fact, according to Kitchn, “the brand is so widespread [that] the name Wondra tends to reference any instant flour when called for in recipes.”
What are your thoughts on the baby name Wondra?