Ever Wonder about Wondra?

wondra, flour, baby name, 1960s

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?

Sources:

The Debut of Diahn

diahn
I believe Diahn is the one in the middle…?

The Diane-variant Diahn made appearances in the U.S. baby name data for five years straight during the 1960s:

  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 5 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1967: 9 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1966: 6 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1965: 21 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1964: 24 baby girls named Diahn [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted

The inspiration? Actress Diahn Williams. Her first major role was as one of the girls (Terry) in the single-season sitcom Harry’s Girls (1963-1964). The series, set in then-modern times, featured a small American vaudeville troupe that performed dance numbers in Europe (because acts like theirs had long since fallen out of favor in the United States).

Diahn continued to appear on various television shows until the mid-1970s, when she quit acting to become a lawyer.

In terms of spelling, do you prefer the unusual “Diahn” or the standard “Diane”?

Source: Harry’s Girls – Wikipedia

“Coolidge” as a Baby Name?

coolidge, 1920s, baby name, politics, president
Calvin Coolidge

John Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States from 1923 until 1929 — finishing Warren G. Harding’s term from 1923 to 1925, and then serving as the elected president from 1925 to 1929.

It’s not hard to guess that the baby name Calvin saw peak usage during this window (specifically, in 1924), but what about the name Coolidge?

“Coolidge” started appearing in the U.S. baby name rather early, actually:

  • 1928: 12 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1927: 33 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1926: 40 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1925: 77 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1924: 82 baby boys named Coolidge [peak]
  • 1923: 46 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1922: 5 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1921: 10 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1920: 8 baby boys named Coolidge [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

Why?

It could have been the attention Calvin Coolidge had gotten in his handling of the Boston Police Strike in September of 1919, while he was the governor of Massachusetts. (“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he stated in a telegram regarding the strike.)

Or, of course, it could have the fact that he was unexpectedly chosen as Warren Harding’s running mate in 1920.

Here’s the SSDI data, for a different perspective on the usage of Coolidge during the same time period:

  • 1928: 13 people named Coolidge
  • 1927: 18 people named Coolidge
  • 1926: 23 people named Coolidge
  • 1925: 52 people named Coolidge
  • 1924: 63 people named Coolidge
  • 1923: 34 people named Coolidge
  • 1922: 2 people named Coolidge
  • 1921: 8 people named Coolidge
  • 1920: 5 people named Coolidge
  • 1919: 2 people named Coolidge

Two of the many 1920s babies named after Calvin Coolidge were Calvin Coolidge Rogers (b. 1924 in Plymouth, Vermont — where Coolidge himself was born) and baseball player Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish (b. 1925).

What does the surname Coolidge mean? It was originally an occupational name for someone who worked for, or was otherwise associated with, a university college. (This included, for instance, the tenant farmers who worked on college farms.)

What do you think of “Coolidge” as a given name?

Sources:

P.S. The baby names Warren and Harding both saw peak usage in 1921.

The Launch of Leilani

The baby name Leilani — which means both “heavenly flowers” and “royal child” in Hawaiian — is very close to entering the U.S. top 100 for the first time.

It’s been making appearances in the top 1,000, though, for quite a while — starting way back in the 1930s:

  • 1939: 98 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 689th]
  • 1938: 101 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 685th]
  • 1937: 81 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 758th]
  • 1936: 8 baby girls named Leilani
  • 1935: 9 baby girls named Leilani

What gave it that initial boost?

The song “Sweet Leilani” from the film Waikiki Wedding (1937), which starred Bing Crosby. Crosby’s rendition of the song became one of the top songs of 1937, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in March of 1938.1

The song hadn’t been created with the movie in mind, though. It had been composed by songwriter Harry Owens several years earlier.

Owens, originally from Nebraska, became the musical director of the orchestra at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel2 in Waikiki in 1934. He and his wife were living on Oahu when they welcomed their first child, a baby girl, in October. The day after Leilani Katherine was born, Owens wrote “Sweet Leilani” for her.

What are your thoughts on the Hawaiian name Leilani?

1A few years later, Crosby scored another hit with “Sierra Sue.”

2The Royal Hawaiian Hotel “was fashioned in a Spanish-Moorish style, popular during the period and influenced by screen star Rudolph Valentino.”

“Beauty of the Week” Baby Name: Tchanavian

© 1986 Jet

The unusual name Tchanavian was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1986:

  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 5 baby girls named Tchanavian [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Same place as Meyosha: Jet magazine. A mid-1986 issue featured Tchanavian Cowles as the “Beauty of the Week.” Tchanavian — an Aries from Las Vegas — was “a student majoring in communications” at the time.

What are your thoughts on the eye-catching name Tchanavian?

Source: “Beauty of the Week.” Jet 4 Aug. 1986: 43.