A French couple named their baby Nutella back in September, but a judge decided that was a dumb idea and renamed the baby at a court hearing.
These parents must totally love Nutella, the hazelnut chocolate spread that so many have come to adore since it hit the market in the ’60s. Chances are they like it so much that they decided to bestow the name on their newborn daughter in September. Unfortunately for them, a presiding judge decided in court that the name was no good.
We’re used to being able to name our kids almost whatever we want in the U.S. — there are a few naming laws, but those tend to vary by state. And some states, like Kentucky, have no laws on the books about what you can or can’t name your baby. Some laws prevent parents from using obscenity, gigantic names, symbols or numbers, but otherwise, you can name your kid Sewage or Turnip if you feel like it.
It’s not the same in France, where up until 1993, French parents were pretty limited on name choices — there was an approved list from which parents could choose for their babies. Now, moms and dads can choose whatever they’d like, as long as officials agree that it’s an OK name.
This is where baby Nutella’s name came up for official consideration. The judge in her case ruled that the name wasn’t in the best interests of the child and stamped a big “nope” on the case. Whether or not the parents care is a big mystery at this point — they didn’t even bother showing up to the hearing. The judge decided to name the baby Ella, which apparently is an approved, reasonable name for a baby girl.
I am not the type to judge a parent for giving their kid a weird name. I hold my tongue when I hear or read about a parent giving a child a “unique” baby name by altering the spelling, for example, because this is not what I would do as a parent. And I certainly wouldn’t go around giving my baby a name like Nutella. The judge reportedly said that this name would cause the child grief and lends itself to bullying. This may be true.
However, I’m not sure I’m cool with the government telling me I can’t name my kid Marshmallow Fluff or Green Beans. Deciding what names are or aren’t in the best interests of a child is subjective, and it’s a bummer that a stranger can decide your baby’s name is garbage and give her a new name.