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There’s no question that Nutella is delicious — but would you name your child after it? A baby in the French city of Valenciennes was recently named for the chocolate-hazelnut spread, but a local judge renamed her Ella after ruling that the moniker Nutella wasn’t in the child’s best interest, according to the newspaper La Voix du Nord.
“The name ‘Nutella’ given to the child is the trade name of a spread,” the judge ruled, according to Time’s translation. “And it is contrary to the child’s interest to be wearing a name like that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts.”
While increasingly unusual names are becoming a norm in the U.S., Pamela Redmond Satran, author of The Baby Name Bible and co-creator of Nameberry.com, says a number of countries have long had laws protecting kids against seemingly odd names. “In France, Napoleon outlawed names that might subject a child to ridicule,” Satran tells Yahoo Parenting. In Norway, parents cannot name a child that is traditionally a last name. “I have friends who had a baby — the mother was Norwegian and the dad was American and they lived in Norway — and they wanted to name their son ‘Russell’. They had to show documentation to the court that it was a commonly used first name in the U.S. since it was considered a surname over there.”
In Germany, names that don’t clearly indicate gender are outlawed. “You couldn’t name your daughter Wyatt, the way Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis did,” she says. “And New Zealand has pretty strict naming laws — you can’t use names that are generally titles or honorifics, like Prince, King, or Princess, which are becoming more popular in the U.S.”
The evidence as to whether an unusual name works against a child is mixed. Research out of Northwestern University has found that kids with certain “linguistically low-status” letter combinations in their names, like “kz” instead of “x” (Alekzandra instead of Alexandra, say), get worse treatment in school. But other studies find that first names have little to no bearing on a child’s future. “In fact, some recent studies have even reversed course, suggesting that the restraint that kids with unusual names learn when they are teased leads to better impulse control in all areas of life,” New York University sociologist Dalton Conley, who named his children E and Yo, writes in Psychology Today.
Good thing, since more and more parents are giving their children names that aren’t even in the top 1,000 most popular names. According to the BBC, only 5 percent of U.S parents chose a name not on the list in 1950. By 2012, that number climbed to 27 percent of parents.
But Satran says she would draw the line at Nutella. “The Ella part is fine, the Nut part, not so much,” she says. “Being named after a dessert food, however delicious, is probably not the way to go. I wouldn’t want to be named pudding or popsicle, either.”
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