Celebrity Names Blog

Sesame Street Names

Sesame Street Names
Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin.com

In honor of the 40th anniversary of  Sesame Street this week, we thought we would look back at the names that are most closely associated with the show.

  • Kermit - Hitting its peak of name popularity in the 1910s at number 269 on the Social Security Administration's list of most popular names, and remaining popular through the 1950s, Kermit saw a swift decline and by the end of the 1970s when Sesame Street was hitting its stride, the name Kermit was nowhere to be found as a new baby name.  Its close association  with the little frog who sang "It's Not Easy Being Green" combined with the currently out-of-fashion hard double consonant in the middle (rm) make Kermit a name that is unlikely to come back any time soon.
  • Ernie & Bert -- Modeled after and orange and a banana, the original muppets have often been said to be named after a pair of police officers that appear in the movie classic Its a Wonderful Life. The muppet creators have said that is merely a coincidence.  Ernie, which is most commonly a nickname for Ernest was popular early in the 20th century and later petered out.  Likewise, Bert, which is most often a nickname for Bertram, Bertrand or Albert. Like Kermit, both these names have that double consonant sound that make them unlikely to appeal to today's parent.
  • Oscar -- Oscar (as in Oscar the Grouch) followed a similar popularity pattern as the other muppet names; however the past 20 years or so have seen a resurgence of the name Oscar.  Why has Oscar risen while others have fallen?  Oscar has a few things going for it -- two ultra trendy sounds -- the leading "o" and the hard "k" sound in the middle.  More importantly, Oscar is an uber-popular Latino name (think Oscar de la Hoya and take a look at NameMapper to see that almost all the states where Oscar is in the top 10 are in the Southwest).
  • Elmo -- It's probably fair to say that the furry red monster has ruined the name Elmo for a generation.  Think about it -- Elmo's sound and popularity history are very similar to those of the name Milo, which has been skyrocketing up the charts lately. There's no reason why Elmo wouldn't have risen similarly, had it not been so closely associated with the muppet character.
  • Zoe -- Zoe, Elmo's furry orange friend was introduced in 1992, just as the name Zoe was climbing the popularity charts.  Unlike the other muppet names we've discussed, the name Zoe had not enjoyed great popularity in the century or so befoe her character was introduced; instead she was named right into the zeitgeist of the moment.


What are some of your favorite muppet names? Do you have any theories on muppet naming patterns?

--J.B.

Comments

Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

November 11, 2009 4:32 PM
By Lane

Grover!

November 12, 2009 10:49 AM
By Zoerhenne (not verified)

Snuffleupagus is my favorite!

November 12, 2009 11:23 AM
By Jennie

Yeah, it's weird how Snuffleupagus never caught on as a baby name! Seriously, Snuffy's first name is Aloysius, and I don't think that has caught on either!

November 13, 2009 9:31 PM
By Dominique

I wonder why that double consonant (like rt in Bertram) is so unpopular these days -- it has a nice strong sound.

November 15, 2009 5:12 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

Zoe! Also Abby Caddaby is adorable.

Betty-Lou has a nice homey feel to it.

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