(The variant form Quinden popped up the same year.)
If you remember the 1996 movie William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, then you’ll remember who kicked off the name: young singer Quindon Tarver (b. 1982), who covered two songs for the film: Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and Rozalla’s “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good).” In fact, he can be seen singing the latter song in the film’s wedding scene.
What are your thoughts on the name Quindon? Would you use it?
Bottled water became increasingly trendy in the U.S. during the final decades of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the mid-to-late ’90s, though, that major players in the beverage industry finally hopped on the bandwagon: Pepsi launched Aquafina in 1994, and Coca-Cola followed with Dasani in 1999.
While I’ve never* seen “Aquafina” used as a human name, Dasani popped up in the U.S. baby name data right on cue in 1999. In fact, in was a rare dual-gender** debut that year:
People are having a lot of fun guessing the origin of the name DASANI. One Coca-Cola executive jokingly said it sounded like a “Roman god of water.” Actually, the name DASANI is an original creation. Consumer testing showed that the name is relaxing and suggests pureness and replenishment.
Similarly, an article from early 1999 explained that “the name Dasani isn’t derived from any existing word, English or foreign, but is meant to evoke the idea of freshness and purity.”
What are your thoughts on the baby name Dasani?
*I’ve seen Aquafina used as a stage name, though: Awkwafina (born Nora Lum).
People who grew up in the ’90s know exactly why the place-name Topanga started popping up in the baby name data that decade:
1999: 44 baby girls named Topanga
1998: 48 baby girls named Topanga [peak]
1997: 33 baby girls named Topanga
1996: 11 baby girls named Topanga
1995: 10 baby girls named Topanga
1994: 5 baby girls named Topanga [debut]
Topanga was the name of a character on the coming-of-age sitcom Boy Meets World, which premiered in September of 1993. The “Boy” at the center of the show was Cory Matthews, his love interest throughout the series was Topanga Lawrence (played by Danielle Fishel).
According to Fishel, show producer Michael Jacobs was the one who came up with her character’s name. He was driving down a highway in California when he got a phone call about naming the character. At that moment, he happened to be driving past the Topanga Canyon exit, so he said “Topanga” and it stuck.
The canyon’s modern name comes from the Gabrielino (or Tongva) word topa’nga. The “-nga” suffix indicates that it’s a place name, but the meaning of topa remains unknown.
Another name that may have gotten a boost from Boy Meets World is Morgan, the name of Cory’s little sister. It was already on the rise at that time, but from 1993 to 1994 the increase was higher than expected.
…And I’ll just randomly throw in one more name that was inspired by a geological feature: Cohutta, a 2014 debut inspired by MTV reality star Cohutta Lee Grindstaff, who was born in Georgia and named after the Cohutta Mountains. The place name Cohutta, originally Gahûtĭ, comes from the Cherokee word gahûtâ’yĭ, meaning “a shed roof supported on poles.”
Which place name works better as a baby name, do you think: Topanga or Cohutta?
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.
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:
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!
The baby name Neve, an anglicized form of the Irish name Niamh (“bright”), first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1996:
1999: 25 baby girls named Neve
1998: 38 baby girls named Neve
1997: 29 baby girls named Neve
1996: 8 baby girls named Neve [debut]
Who kicked it off?
Actress Neve Campbell, one of the stars of the TV show Part of Five. The show premiered in 1994, but didn’t become popular until 1996, after winning the Golden Globe for “Best Television Series – Drama” that January.
Neve played 15-year-old Julia Salinger, middle child of the five orphaned Salinger siblings. (Their parents had died in a car accident.) Julia had older brothers named Charlie and Bailey, a younger sister named Claudia, and a baby brother named Owen.
The show didn’t do much for the names Charlie or Claudia, and Julia was already on the rise, thanks to Julia Roberts. But it definitely gave the name Bailey a boost as a boy name. And it seems to have kicked off the long (and continuing!) rise of the name Owen.
Do you like the name Neve? What spelling do you prefer?