Food Baby Names Are Having A Moment & They're Actually Pretty Cute


As someone who spends a stupid amount of time looking up the meanings of different names even when I’m not, y’know, actually trying to name something — babies, pets, fictional characters, whatever — I relish the end of year for one very specific reason: Baby name website popularity reports. And thanks to BabyCenter’s 2018 baby name report, I just learned something delightful. It seem that in 2018, food-inspired baby names have been on the rise — which means that 2018 was the year of the literal food baby. That’s hilarious to me, so come — let us explore this strange, new world together.

Towards the end of every year, BabyCenter release a report detailing both the 200 most popular names of the that year — 100 for names typically coded as girl’s names and 100 for those typically coded as boy’s names — and identifying some notable trends and themes. In 2018, the top 10 names included Sophia, Jackson, Olivia, Liam, Emma, Noah, Ava, Aiden, Isabella, and Caden, while trends included a lot of pop culture references. (Apparently people are naming their kids for the latest generation of Kardashian-Jenners — think Stormi and Dream — and for the overwhelmingly popular video game Fortnite). But in addition to the pop culture angle, it seems that foodie names have seen some growth this year, too, and honestly? That just tickles me so, so much.

Now, it’s worth remembering that the end-of-year reports from most baby name sites are based on user data — not on data from the Social Security Administration, or SSA. (The SSA’s name popularity reports for one year don’t usually arrive until the spring of the next.) As such, the data may ultimately not be representative of the actual U.S. population. Still, though, they can be useful for tracking general trends — and, I mean, let’s face it: Looking up the meanings and relative popularity of baby names is fun, even if you have no intention of becoming a parent anytime soon.

Here are the most notable food-inspired baby names called out by BabyCenter’s report:



Classified as an “invented” name, “Kale” brings to mind the leafy green that so many people like to put in their smoothies. BabyCenter’s report states that it climbed the charts by 35 percent this year.

It’s worth noting, though, that even though the percentage is high, the actual number of Kales that were born this year was not. There’s not much Social Security Administration data for the name (there’s some for boys, but none for girls from 2013 onward), so BabyCenter is relying on the number of their own users who chose it for their wee ones — and according to that data, only four girls named Kale were born for every million babies in 2018, up from two in 2017. For boys, the 2018 figure is 25 Kales per million babies, which is actually down from 33 the previous year. Indeed, Kale’s most popular moment occurred in 1997 for girls and 2008 for boys.



Although admittedly “Kiwi” could also be a reference either to the wingless bird or a person from New Zealand, I’d be willing to bet that most people who bestow this name upon their children are thinking of the fruit. For girls, the name has risen steadily in BabyCenter’s ranks (there’s no SSA data for it) since 2001: At that point, there were only four Kiwis born for every million babies, but now, there are 44 of them. It’s used less frequently for boys, but has still made a surprising leap in recent years: In 2015, five Kiwis were born per million babies, while in 2018, the number jumped to 19. Overall, the name rose in popularity this year by 40 percent.



“Maple” has been in use for quite a while — the SSA’s data on it goes back to 1896, at which point 25 babies per million had the name — but after spending decades in virtual obscurity, it’s suddenly exploded in popularity: With 81 Maples per million babies arriving in 2018 according to BabyCenter’s user data — the highest the name has ever ranked — it rose 32 percent this year. (The SSA’s 2018 data isn’t in yet, but in 2016, the agency clocked it at 64 Maples per million babies.)

In addition to the sweet, foodie connotations of “Maple,” you could also think of it as a nature-inspired name — maple trees are beautiful, particularly in the autumn.



I actually love the name “Clementine”; it’s a bit old-fashioned — it achieved its peak popularity in 1882 per the SSA, when 223 babies for every million had the name, but steadily dropped in the charts from 1911 onward — and there’s something incredibly adorable about a brand-new baby carrying a vintage sort of name. According to BabyCenter, it rose in popularity by 15 percent in 2018: 191 babies per million were given the name this year.

There’s also more meaning to it than just the name of a fruit: The feminine version of Clement, it’s French in origin and means “merciful” or “mild.”



“Saffron” has hovered in the 10 to 20 babies per million range each year since 2000, according to the Social Security Administration; per BabyCenter’s user data, though, it’s jumped around much more, with 1998 and 2012 representing the peaks at around 63 and 1999 and 2005 representing the valleys at about 10. In 2018, though, the number rose by 31 percent for girls, according to BabyCenter — 23 babies per million born this year have been called “Saffron.”

Although saffron is a spice, you can also think of “Saffron” as color-inspired name, as Nameberry points out; it does have a “distinctive yellow hue,” after all.



Like “Clementine,” “Rosemary” is a bit old-fashioned, so if you’re into vintage stuff, you’ll probably dig it for your offspring. It’s nowhere near as popular now as it was several decades ago — in 1946, almost 3,000 babies per million bore the name, according to the SSA — but it’s still been on the rise recently; BabyCenter pegs its growth at 20 percent for girls, with 252 Rosemarys (Rosemaries?) per million being born in 2018. The figures are larger for the SSA, with the most recent numbers coming in at 400.

Interestingly, the name isn’t only limited to its herbaceous meaning; due to its Latin meaning, “dew of the sea” and “bitter rose of the sea,” BabyCenter categorizes it as a “Dark and Scary” name (although maybe Rosemary's Baby has something to do with that, too). My inner goth is pleased.



“Sage” — which can either refer to the herb or to a person of great wisdom — has grown considerably in popularity in recent decades: In 1990, the SSA reported that there were 61 girl Sages and 41 boy Sages born per million babies — but by 2017, the numbers had risen to 609 and 341. BabyCenter’s users, meanwhile, have increasingly chosen the name for boys; in 2018, 351 parents named their bouncing boys Sage, up from 287 the previous year.

Check out BabyCenter’s trend report here. You can also find the top names of the year — that is, the ones that were the most popular in 2018 — here. Have fun!