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Will This Cracker Crumble My Baby's Name?

For a long time my husband has loved the name Graham. I think it's a nice enough name and wouldn't mind using it, except that I have a hard time getting over the association with "graham cracker." I worry that our little boy will be teased throughout his childhood for having the same name as a common food. There's also the unit of measurement (gram) and a common nickname for a grandmother (grams) that sound almost like the name. Do you think that having a name with so many associations going along with it would be a problem?

-- Maybe Mom to a Graham

Graham isn't the only name that calls something non-human to mind. In many cases, that's the soul of the name's appeal: Violet, Summer, Stone. Yet the wrong association can overwhelm a name. In the past I’ve advised parents against choosing names that will saddle their children witha connection to drugs and explosives. Even some trendy name inspirations, like luxury brands and firearms manufacturers, can make for uncomfortable first impressions.

Graham crackers don’t quite fit that bill. They're sweet and utterly inoffensive, a tasty treat beloved of toddlers, campfire cooks and crumble-crust bakers everywhere.

Yes, your son’s future classmates may occasionally call him "graham cracker." But as insults go, that one’s pretty toothless and unlikely to persist past the third grade (when kids’ insult-comedy demands more blood). You might even find family members turning "graham cracker" into a term of affection. Parents and spouses call their loved ones “cookie” or “cupcake," and generations of Candices have been called "candy cane" with the best of intentions.

There are other positive signs for Graham, too. You pointed out the other associations that can be made between the name Graham and a host of common words. This could be a plus, because it works against the equivalence of Graham with graham cracker. And while a name like Beretta had essentially no history as a given name before chosen by Levi Johnston for his daughter, Graham has a rich history as a name—both first and last—over centuries.

Also consider the possible benefits of the graham cracker connection. So many parents complain about strangers and teachers misspelling or mispronouncing their children’s names, but you’ve got a built-in spelling and pronunciation reinforcement at every snack time. If that worries you more than it soothes, however, try the Scottish variant Graeme, pronounced the same way but minus the Nabisco-approved spelling.

Comments

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January 7, 2013 12:12 PM
By Mo (not verified)

I think Graham is a great name.
This reminds me, we called my cousin, Tate, "tater bug" when he was little, he was just so little and cute we all wanted to call him by a nickname. Neither he nor his parents seemed bothered by it. It soon wore away as he got older. I think the parents set the tone. If you don't act bothered or offended he won't either.
I think Graham will fit well with Christian, Angel, Ty, Chase, Cole, Talon, Max, Skyler, Hunter, and all of the other kids and their names in his first grade class.
Happy Naming!

January 7, 2013 12:36 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Graham is a lovely name & the cracker association is really pretty minor. In fact it's only called a Graham cracker after its inventor, Sylvester Graham. & don't forget Alexander Graham Bell! It's got enough history as a name that there shouldn't be any problems.

January 7, 2013 2:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

A neighbor kid was named Graham Bell, which I thought was too close to Alexander Graham Bell, but if that's not your last name, then I wouldn't worry about it.

January 7, 2013 7:03 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, I know a Graham who spent well through high school being called "graham cracker". In fact, he still gets it as an adult. It's obnoxious. Don't do it.

January 7, 2013 10:35 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If your from the South, especially if you have a rural or working class background, then the "...cracker" thing is going to be much more of a problem. Otherwise, don't sweat it.

January 8, 2013 11:31 AM
By Ruby (not verified)

I adore the name Graham. I just wish I could get my husband on board, and that I didn't already love Silas and Oliver more.

There is an alternative pronunciation, Gray-um (I guess it cuts the name like so: Gra-ham), but this would signal that the cracker association significantly bothers you, which I think would cause more trouble than the American pronunciation. Not to mention all of the correcting he'd have to do all through his life.

I see Graham as a dignified name, in spite of the cracker. The minor teasing he gets with this name may simply strengthen your son ^_^

January 8, 2013 1:38 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Graham is a wonderful name! It's my brother-in-law's name and I think he's been fine with it throughout his life. And it sounds nice for both a child and a grown man. My 2.5 year old daughter calls him her "Uncle Grammie" and he thinks it's cute. I'd use it if I were you.

January 8, 2013 3:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I was going to say the same thing as Ruby -- I'm British-American and always pronounce "Graham" as "Gray-um" and get confused when people say it "gram."

January 8, 2013 3:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

It's a name that made my list. (Had a daughter, though.) Anyway, I think you're over-thinking things.

January 8, 2013 3:29 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You could always go with the Welsh spelling which is Graeme. I like the name and kids will tease any name really. I'm a Jennifer and I was teased in elementary school, so.....:-)

January 8, 2013 5:38 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The two spellings (Graham and Graeme) are the only downside as far as I can see. Like Stewart/Stuart they are both well-used and there's no way to tell which one is intended without asking.
My name has varient spellings too, but Sally is far more common than Sallie or Sallee, so most people guess right.

January 8, 2013 5:51 PM
By Sadie (not verified)

I think you're over-thinking it, there have been plenty of Grahams (although not too many to make it super common and boring). I wouldn't even associate it with the cracker unless I was close to the child and then it would be a sweet little nickname. My dog's name is Lupe and I still manage to call her "Fruit Loop" as well as calling my cat, Roo, "Baby Ruth". I know it's different when it's your kid, but my point is it's easy to make a nickname out of anything. It could be worse--my name is Sadie and I got called "Satan" and "Sadist" by people in school. I'd gladly take Graham Cracker (and I love my name--in the end all the stupid nicknames I got (like Sadie Bug instead of Lady Bug didn't matter). I also had to compete with Sadie Hawkins--so I'd rather be teased for a delicious snack food than for a girl that was so ugly her father told the single men of the town that they were going to have a race and whoever she caught had to marry her.... Yeah, definitely rather be connected to a snack food.

January 8, 2013 5:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm from Australia, so it took me a moment to work out the issue. I had only every heard of the cracker, not seen it in print, and Graham is pronounced "Gray-um" here.

Graham is a fairly popular name in Australia, though was more popular in the 60s and 70s (and maybe earlier). I have a 40yo cousin called Graham.

As for the different spellings - maybe Graeme would work better in this instance? Both spelling are popular here, but it's not hard to check which one it is (I have a name with 2 popular spellings, and I don't really care if people add an "h").

In Aus, the "gram" pronunciation wouldn't work, as we use the metric system, so grams are our standard measure of weight/mass.

January 8, 2013 9:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think it's an elegant name that matures well...so what about the cracker...people will get over it once they know your child!

January 9, 2013 3:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Graham was the 255th most popular boy's name for 2011 in the US. So while not hugely popular, certainly not so uncommon that the only thing anyone will think of is the cracker. So I agree you are over-thinking it.

And yes, kids will tease pretty much any name!

January 9, 2013 4:40 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My cousin and his wife named their son Graham three years ago- my family made cracker jokes for a little while and then once we actually met the baby it was over. As far as other kids- if they don't have a built in name to harass him with, they'll come up with one, and it will probably be a lot meaner than Graham cracker. Go with it!

January 9, 2013 5:11 PM
By M (not verified)

I have a son named Graham and the cracker association has not been an issue. It has been noticed that he shares his name with the crackers, but nobody seems to care. Remember how weird the names of his classmmates will be - this is not the era of Johns and Suzies! I think that unless the name is really ridiculous, name teasing just isn't going to be the same as it used to be.

We do have people misspell it as "Gram", which is funny because we do pronounce it something like "Gray-um", and hasn't everybody heard of Graham crackers?

I love the name and am very glad we chose it.

January 15, 2013 1:39 PM
By Henrietta (not verified)

I loved the name Graham Lawrence (my last name) but chickened out and went with Jonas. Single, adoptive mum so could choose any name I liked.

Everyone thought I named him for the Jonas Brothers. I never heard of them and none of my friends (aka us old people but at post-adoption party every teen and pre-teen was quick to point out the 'oh, like Jonas Brothers'.

I was also assured no one would call a Jonas 'Joe' so was not pleased in when all his friends in preschool started to call him Jojo (which is now: dojo or jojo the dodo bird--which becomes bird which became 'word'...as in "Word, duuuuude", yelled at every mall/parking lot/event with other teens from his school...ugh).

Depends on the kids I guess but it was always 'good natured' and he takes it well, but sad to see the fate of the 'perfect' name for my precious boy warped to 'oh, you are Worddds mom'.

As to Graham, I was more worried 'Grammy' or 'Grams' being Grandma.

January 15, 2013 1:41 PM
By Henrietta (not verified)

That's Graham Lawrence + my last name which is not Lawrence

January 20, 2013 5:01 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

In Australia the standard pronunciation is Gray-um. My son has this name as a middle after both sides of the family and I have never had a negative comment about it.

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