What gave the baby name Vidalia a boost in 1997?

The rare name Vidalia returned to the U.S. baby name data in 1996, then saw a spike in usage the very next year:

  • 1999: 6 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1998: 13 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1997: 17 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1996: 11 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: unlisted

That 1997 high-point remained Vidalia’s peak usage for over two decades.

What inspired this sudden interest in the name Vidalia?

The country song “Vidalia” (pronounced vie-DAYL-ya) by Sammy Kershaw. The song was released in mid-1996 and, later the same year, reached #10 on Billboard‘s “Hot Country Songs” chart.

The song is about a girl named Vidalia whose parents combined their own names (“Your dear mama Violet/And your proud daddy Dale”) to come up with a name that happened to be the name of an onion — an unusually sweet onion, but an onion nonetheless (“Sweet Vidalia/You always gotta make me cry”).

The Vidalia onion — Georgia’s official state vegetable — was first discovered/grown near Vidalia, Georgia, in the early 1930s. (In fact, an old Atlanta Journal-Constitution article reveals that 5 of the baby Vidalias born between 1990 and 2008 were born in Georgia specifically.)

The town of Vidalia may have been named in honor of Spanish aristocrat Don José Vidal, or after Vidalia, Louisiana (which itself was named for Vidal).

The surname Vidal can be traced back to the Latin personal name Vitalis, which comes from the Latin word vita, meaning “life.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Vidalia?


(h/t to Jack in the comments for letting me know about the song!)

[Latest Update: Aug. 2021]

6 thoughts on “What gave the baby name Vidalia a boost in 1997?

  1. I’m willing to bet most of the girls named Vidalia since 1997 were named after the Sammy Kershaw song. I know I did. My daughter was one the 7 babies born in 2013 named Vidalia.

  2. I bet you’re right!

    The song “Vidalia” was released in mid-1996, and there was indeed a corresponding increase in the usage of the baby name Vidalia from 1996 to 1998.

    Thanks, Jack!

  3. i HATED my name until i was about 15. before then, literally EVERYONE called me onion girl, and it drove me absolutely insane. being from a small town in rural illinois, only a handful of people had ever even heard my name before, let alone met someone with it. as i’ve gotten older, though, i genuinely cannot imagine being named anything else

  4. I named my puppy Vidalia. Last year when I was trying to think of a name for her and nothing on my list was quite right, out of the blue the song popped into my head and it just fit. Now I can’t imagine her being named anything else.

    Obviously I’m biased, but I think it’s a lovely name with a slightly old-fashioned feeling to it.

    And yes, she lovingly gets called ‘the onion’ by a couple of people.

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