So here’s one that I’m still not 100% sure about — we’re talking toilet paper, after all — but I think the theory is solid enough to post.
The baby name Charmin jumped into the U.S. baby name data for the first time in the mid-1950s:
- 1959: 9 baby girls named Charmin
- 1958: 16 baby girls named Charmin
- 1957: 8 baby girls named Charmin
- 1956: 10 baby girls named Charmin
- 1955: 7 baby girls named Charmin [debut]
- 1954: unlisted
- 1953: unlisted
Now, the brand “Charmin” had already been around a while at this point. It was first manufactured in the late 1920s, and the name was based on the word “charming.” I don’t know what the pronunciation was originally, but when Charmin TV commercials started airing in the 1950s, the “ch” sounded like an sh, as in Charade.
And the commercials are key here. So is the packaging, and the slogan. Because during the 1950s, the Charmin Paper Company changed a few things:
- 1953: It added a baby image to the packaging. Before that, the image had only ever been that of a woman’s silhouette. Within a few years, the “Charmin Baby” replaced the “Charmin Lady” entirely.
- 1956: It started using the slogans “So very soft – it babies your skin” and “Charmin babies your skin” in print and on television. And at least one of the commercials featured an adorable toddler:
I think these baby-emphasizing changes in the Charmin marketing gave expectant parents the subtle suggestion that “Charmin” might make a nice baby name.
Do you agree?
And did you know: The famous “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!” marketing campaign that lasted from the ’60s to the ’80s inspired country singer Charlie Walker to write the song “Don’t Squeeze My Sharmon,” which became a top-10 country hit in 1967? Around the same time, the baby name Sharmon saw peak usage.