The Sesame Street Effect

In 1969 a children’s show called [name]Sesame[/name] [name]Street[/name] started. Using hand puppets called ‘Muppets’ children learned their alphabet and numbers. These muppets had something else going for them, names that for the most part are ‘normal’ names. Once these names were placed on a muppet chances where good that they would never (or rarely) used on a little baby again.
Does this still apply? Lets see:

  1. [name]Abby[/name] (cadabby)- Hebrew in origin it means ‘my father is joyful’ and is the diminutive to the name [name]Abigail[/name]. It is pretty obvious when looking at the name charts that the use of [name]Abby[/name] has not faltered or even slowed down with the introduction of this Muppet.
  2. [name]Bert[/name]- Diminutive of [name]Albert[/name] or [name]Bertram[/name]. Becoming popular again in [name]England[/name], still not quite there in [name]America[/name].
  3. [name]Bernice[/name] ([name]Bert[/name]'s pet bird)- Greek in origin meaning ‘she who brings victory’. Not popular (or even on the horizon) here or over seas.
  4. [name]Elmo[/name]- [name]German[/name] meaning ‘protector’ [name]Elmo[/name] is perhaps they most popular Muppet on the market. This name, while cute, tends to bring to mind all things red and cuddly.
  5. [name]Dorothy[/name] ([name]Elmo[/name]'s pet bird)- English meaning ‘gift of God’. [name]May[/name] be making a revival with the resurgence of vintage or classic names. Nicknames like [name]Dot[/name] make it even better.
  6. [name]Ernie[/name]- A diminutive of [name]Ernest[/name]. Recalls images of bridge playing elderly men wearing thick glasses.
  7. [name]Grover[/name]- English in origin it means ‘lives near a grove of trees’. Could pop up with the use of names with a similar feeling, [name]Alfred[/name], [name]Phineas[/name] and [name]Caspar[/name].
  8. [name]Oscar[/name]- English meaning ‘deer lover’ seems to have surpassed its grouchy blip in time. Hugely popular over seas it is becoming embraced more and more in [name]America[/name] for its classic feel.
  9. [name]Rosita[/name]- is Spanish in origin and is surprisingly the diminutive to the name [name]Rosa[/name]. [name]Rosita[/name] is not one of the hugely popular characters on the block so this name is probably not even affected by this show for those who would use this name.
  10. [name]Zoe[/name]- origin is Greek and means ‘life’ and is climbing in popularity so rapidly that it is pretty obvious that the toddler Muppet of the same name is having no effect (or at least negative effect) on parents using this name for their own little ones.
  11. [name]Aloysius[/name] (snuffleupagus)- is Latin meaning ‘famous warrior’ but is hardly a famous name. (Not in top 1000 for the past 10 years in [name]America[/name]). If like you prefer Snuffy over [name]Aloysius[/name] you are not alone.
  12. [name]Natasha[/name]- is a diminutive of [name]Natalia[/name] and means ‘born on [name]Christmas[/name] day’. While the baby is very cute is the name? It was ranked 407 in 2009 so parents must think so.
  13. [name]Buster[/name] (the horse)- A nickname name that may have stalled in the 1950’s. Regardless of the equine connection it is doubtful if [name]Buster[/name] would make a come back in the near future with more pleasing names like [name]Dustin[/name] or [name]Justin[/name] satisfying our ‘u’ needs.
  14. [name]Kingston[/name]- A place name that has jumped a whopping 717 spots since 2006 when it debuted in the charts. This must likely has more to do with the birth of a famous singer than [name]Kingston[/name] [name]Livingston[/name] III.
  15. [name]Livingston[/name]- English in origin meaning ‘dear friend’s place’. This name has the surname feel that is so popular, but this name may be too stuffy even for the most daring parent… but it would work well for a character that belongs in the [name]Sherlock[/name] [name]Holmes[/name] era.
  16. [name]Sherlock[/name]- English meaning ‘fair haired’. It’s lack of use can be attributed to a certain crime detective as opposed to this bespectacled Muppet.
  17. [name]Sonny[/name]- is a nickname name that has been in the top 1000 for the last decade. This friendly character has probably had little effect on the use of this name. Some of its popularity could be associated with our love of ‘son’ names or its name sake in the God Father trilogy.
  18. [name]Alice[/name] (little snuffy)- Germanic meaning ‘[name]Noble[/name]’ has been below number 500 on the popularity list for the last decade, proof that it hasn’t been deeply affected by the petite Snuffleupagus or the [name]Cullen[/name]. This should bring relief to many mother’s heart that dropped with the release of a certain vampire book.
  19. [name]Barkley[/name]- The very fact that this name is followed by ‘the dog’ should explain the ‘Bark’ prefix, but for those that are searching for a fresher version of [name]Berkley[/name] may be able to ignore the [name]Sesame[/name] connection.
  20. [name]Gladys[/name]- a Welsh variant of [name]Claudia[/name], this name is still at least a generation away from being refreshing and bold again, ignoring its bovine use in this children’s show.
  21. [name]Betty[/name]- a diminutive of [name]Elizabeth[/name] meaning ‘pledge to God’ that has lost popularity in the last generation. With the use of more esthetically pleasing nicknames including [name]Beth[/name], [name]Eliza[/name] and [name]Ellie[/name], [name]Betty[/name] has become unneeded. Could return in another decade, but it is doubtful that it is affected by any [name]Sesame[/name] street association.
  22. [name]Lou[/name]- is a common prefix name that has been known to stand alone. This name is paired with [name]Betty[/name] on the show and shows how this name was used in the past, as a short name paired to create a full name. It is doubtful that little [name]Betty[/name] [name]Lou[/name] has any affect on parents using this name, but it could grow in popularity as names like [name]Louisa[/name], [name]Louise[/name] and [name]Lucy[/name] become more and more popular.
  23. [name]Bruno[/name]- [name]German[/name] meaning ‘brown’ has been in the top 1000 for the last decade, but is still more popular in Europe than it is in [name]America[/name]. [name]May[/name] creep up in popularity due to its similarity to names like [name]Homer[/name] and [name]Otto[/name]. The fact that he is a garbage collector on the street will probably have little affect on the use of this name.
  24. [name]Harvey[/name]- is French in origin and means ‘battle worthy’. This name has successfully fallen off the name list in 2000, but is more popular in [name]England[/name]. It can bring to mind names such as [name]Norman[/name] or [name]Stanley[/name]. That he is a fun loving and playful character may give some who see him a new view of this name, only time will tell.
  25. [name]Murray[/name]- is Scottish and means ‘from the land by the sea’ and is most recognizable now as the surname of the actor [name]Bill[/name]. It could become popular as a masculine girls name, but should probably be allowed to fall out of our sights so that it can come back in a few generations as a fresh yet vintage name.

All in all it seems that when [name]Sesame[/name] [name]Street[/name] Muppets actually have an affect on names and baby naming it seems to be for the negative, a la [name]Elmo[/name], but when a name is going to be used then [name]Sesame[/name] [name]Street[/name] has little or no affect at all.
Are there names you would use off this list? I would consider: [name]Dorothy[/name], [name]Oscar[/name] and [name]Alice[/name]. Ask me again in 5 years and [name]Grover[/name] may have made the list!

I like [name]Abby[/name], [name]Zoe[/name], [name]Dorothy[/name], [name]Betty[/name], [name]Natasha[/name], and [name]Murray[/name].

I would not use [name]Murray[/name], though, and probably [name]Natasha[/name] would be the only serious contender (it’s not high on my list, though, and I’d probably prefer [name]Natalia[/name]). [name]Ernie[/name] ([name]Ernest[/name]) was my grandfather, and my grandmother (his wife) is [name]Betty[/name] ([name]Elizabeth[/name]). I would never use [name]Ernie[/name], but I do want to use [name]Ernest[/name] as a middle name. I also want to use [name]Elizabeth[/name], but I’d use [name]Beth[/name] as a nickname, most likely.

[name]Phoebe[/name] was also used in seasons 32-33.
It seems like the muppet namesakes don’t have much effect if the sound of the name is stylish. Probably only the really popular ones-[name]Kermit[/name], [name]Elmo[/name], [name]Ernie[/name], etc- even trigger the association for most grown-ups without young kids.

What about my favorite – [name]Prairie[/name]! I really love that cute off-beat name, and wonder if it could ever get much use.

This topic is cute, I found it while searching for [name]Rosita[/name]… :slight_smile: Which having been a nanny is all muppet for me.

I wanted to add a couple of things though! [name]Dorothy[/name] is [name]Elmo[/name]'s goldfish. And in my mind, the [name]Prairie[/name] part of [name]Prairie[/name] [name]Dawn[/name] was more of a description (to indicate she’s from the prairies I guess… Something like Punxsutawney [name]Phil[/name] or my local version, Wiarton [name]Willie[/name]). I was surprised to read on the muppet wiki that it’s her real name.

When I have another kid, I’ll be seriously considering [name]Oscar[/name] and [name]Alice[/name] (maybe [name]Adele[/name] instead). [name]Dorothy[/name], [name]Betty[/name], and [name]Grover[/name] I would also think about. I think [name]Grover[/name] is totally plausible since -er names are very in. [name]Zoe[/name] is very useable. The only one I can think of it destroyed is [name]Elmo[/name]. That would be an adorable name, but it’s very attached to the muppet.

Psst… [name]Dorothy[/name]'s a goldfish. :wink: