Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bad Fruit Names (Or, How Cruel Parents Can Be)

by Eilis Flynn

Carambola is an interesting name. Tomato, not so much.

Recently, the hub and I were at lunch (or dunch, I guess, because it was a meal between lunch and dinner, or just plain food, because he hadn’t eaten yet and I was already working on dinner because I wake up earlier) when we heard one of the staff at the (real-world) diner yell, “Hey, Peaches!”

“Peaches.” Which got us discussing yet another of those odd topics that we tend to discuss as we wait for our food to be delivered. We can’t talk much about nicknames (well, we can, but that’s another topic), but what’s the worst fruit name a parent can bestow on an unsuspecting child? Gwyneth Paltrow’s kid Apple aside, of course. That kid’s going to have enough problems as it is (after therapy, I assume she’ll change her name to Amy or something equally bland).

Hub said “Breadfruit.” Yes, that would be a terrible name. And cruel.

Our food arrived right then, so we had to table the discussion. Mike threw the question over to his Facebook feed (anybody buy the stock? No? Anybody short the stock?) and got an interesting set of answers.

First, two people came up with “Uglifruit.” Yes, but that’s a name that would just be MEAN. Kumquat was another suggestion made by two people. What kind of character would “Kumquat” be? I see short, squat, distrustful. I mean, after all, if your parents called you “Kumquat,” wouldn’t you distrust everyone?

“Banana” also came up, courtesy of two people, one of whom, a French translator, pointed out that “banane” means “stupid.” Of course, I immediately thought of the Japanese author who writes as “Banana Yoshimoto.” Her real name is “Mahoko,” but writes as “Banana” because she likes banana flowers. (Of course, I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as banana flowers!)

Then there’s “Cherry.” I had to point out that “Cherry” isn’t a terrible name, and in fact, it’s relatively common as far as fruit names go. I grew up with Cherry Ames, Student Nurse novels, and of course, the best-selling author and absolutely wonderful Cherry Adair lives in this area. My old college roommate Elin, however, pointed out that there were obvious reasons that it was pretty bad for a first name. We disagreed, but then that’s nothing new (but she’s a dear soul). Then again, “Cherry Tomato,” we agreed, would be a terrible name, unless there was a new career as a stripper involved. (A British commenter said it would only work if it were pronounced “to-MAH-to.”) Also appropriate for a stripper career: “Lemon Kiwi.”

“Mango” and “Melon,” though, were borderline offensive (anyone else remember “Mango” from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE?). And anyone with a name like “Melon” or “Melons” would encourage a punch in the snoot. Or a career as a stripper.

Then there was “Plantain,” which has to be pretty far up for terrible names, although “Gooseberry” would be acceptable but still iffy for nicknames. Not to mention “Durian.”

The penultimate in unfortunate names that are real, of course, is “Prunella,” as in “Prunella Scales” (that reminder courtesy of the hub’s old high school classmate – if you’ve ever seen FAWLTY TOWERS, you’ll recognize the name). But the British are quirky that way (spoken like an American, of course).

The best, all-time real fruit name, though, is Marion Berry, the former DC mayor. Or Marion Barry, sorry. No excuse for him!

Eilis Flynn has nothing much else to say on the subject. She writes romantic fantasy and wonders why everyone doesn't.


  1. I would agree that kumquat is worst!

  2. There is NO nickname that would not be terrible from "Kumquat." I mean, that would be AWFUL.