What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Then again, slather a nickname like Honey Boo Boo on a wee child, and you've just made yourself a pop culture steamroller.
After all, a name like "Alana Thompson" wouldn't have been enough to generate your own reality TLC show, rack up meme riffs, send TV critics and parenting circles huffing over child exploitation, and inspire a short-lived Halloween costume.
No, it takes an entirely random term of endearment. That's the story behind the handle of this 7-year-old Georgia pageant princess, whose first-half season of TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" wrapped up Sept. 26. That's right, "Honey Boo Boo" just came out of nowhere, according to Honey Boo Boo herself. In a hard-hitting investigative interview by Anderson Cooper, she said, "It just came out of the blue. ... Other people call me Honey Boo Boo child, not just me." The exposé:
OK, let's dig some more, given that anticlimactic explanation. Honey Boo Boo hasn't always been HBB: When she first burst into the public consciousness with the subtlety of a glitter-bomb laced with napalm on an episode of "Toddlers & Tiaras," the child was dubbed "Smoochie" and the "Diva Beauty Queen." The nickname may have come from a spontaneous eruption, when she declared her grandiose plans to be beauty queen: "A dolla makes me holla, honey boo boo!" TLC couldn't resist taking that phrase; a spokesperson confirmed, "Yes -- Alana came up with 'honey boo boo herself' in the initial taping of 'Toddlers & Tiaras." The clip went viral from there.
But where did Alana get that? "Boo," of course, has long been an affectionate term: A Chris Brown song inspired a Yahoo! Answers discussion, with two people pointing to its origin in the French word "beau," which means "beautiful" in the masculine and has been used mainly to describe one's boyfriend. "Boo," while originally applied to male and female sweeties, applies to all sorts of loved ones now. So double down on that diminutive and add a slash of honey, and you have yourself a child beloved by her family and grown-up child stars like Miley Cyrus.
And she could have been paying subconscious homage to Hanna-Barbera's Boo Boo Bear, the patient, petite companion to Yogi Bear. Boo Boo was his buddy, his pal -- the id to Yogi's ego. And honey, of course, is a favorite of Jellystone Park denizens, after purloined picnic baskets.
The hygiene-challenged-but-loving, self-described redneck Thompson family spreads nicknames around: Sugar Bear, the daddy; Mama the, um, mommy; Chubbs, Pumpkin, and Chickadee, HBB's sisters; Uncle Poodle, the gay uncle; and Glitzy the pig.