Walk into a contemporary preschool classroom in America and it feels—to us late-20s and early-30s geezers—like every other child is named something like Olive or Kale, Paisley or Cayenne. Not to suggest that every person should be a John or a Jennifer until the end of time, but at this point, are people really just naming their kids after their favorite material things?
Well, in France, the law is just saying no to parents who are looking to send their bundle of joy straight into Bullytown by bestowing them with the kind of name that will torment them eternally. As we've all learned the hard way at some point in our miserable adolescence, children and teenagers are evil enough to come up with a cruel and disparaging nickname, via alliteration or rhyming, for virtually any name in existence; why bait them with something that's stupid to begin with?
A French judge at the court of Valenciennes recently ruled that two jerk parents who were trying to name their daughter "Nutella"—yes, Nutella, like the brown chocolate-hazelnut spread that we all enjoy on crepes and toast from time to time—needed to think up something better to forever call the small human being that they are completely responsible for. La Voix du Nord reports that the baby girl of these unfortunate parents was born on September 24, and had been the subject of a legal battle with the national registrar, who is responsible for approving the names of infants when their birth certificates are filed. When names are filed that are "contrary to the child's interest," the registrar can order a name change from the family court via a prosecutor.
The court stated in the final ruling that "The name 'Nutella' given to the child is the trade name of a spread … and it is contrary to the child's interest to have a name that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts." Why should a third-party judge have to point this out to people who are supposed to be spending the next 18 years teaching this kid about life?
To make matters even uglier, the mother and father seem to be pretty deadbeat—they failed to appear for a court date in November that was supposed to be the initial hearing regarding the chocolate-hazelnut-spread-baby situation. Because they didn't show, the judge was able to formally rule that the girl will not live her life in a perpetual maelstrom of teasing from other vicious little brats.
A baby in Raismes that was born just a month after unfortunate little Nutella fell into a similar situation when her parents tried to name her "Fraise," which means, literally, "strawberry" en français. The court was like "hell naw, you guys," and the couple settled for "Fraisine"—a similar but more socially acceptable name popular in the 19th century—instead.
Look, we all like strawberries and Nutella too. They're delicious, and make a wonderful breakfast or picnic snack. But so do egg salad sandwiches, and if you name your child Egg Salad Sandwich, you're an asshole.
My aunt was once in the hospital after giving birth to her second daughter and got caught up in a conversation with the woman next to her, who had also just had a baby. "What's her name?" the woman asked my aunt. "Clare, " she told her. "What's yours named?" "Dijonnaise," the woman replied. Yes, as in the mayonnaise-mustard mix that debuted in 1993. But apparently she wasn't the only one who thought that naming her child after a condiment was sound logic—birth records show that there are at least 28 Dijonnaise's wandering this Earth.
This is why we can't have nice things. Like newborn children.