If you think you’re seeing the name Carson everywhere now, give it some time. At least if you’re from the Philadelphia region.
The name Carson is growing in popularity in Pennsylvania, with rises in New Jersey and Delaware to boot, according to the Social Security Administration, which recently released its latest data on top baby names.
In 2015, a year before Wentz was drafted to the Eagles, Carson was ranked No. 81 in the state, with 181 boys born with the name. In 2018, the name snagged No. 11 on the list, with 454. Nationally, the name is No. 70 on the Social Security Administration’s list.
Pamela Redmond Satran, who runs the popular baby name website Nameberry.com, said the Super Bowl, which the Eagles won in 2018, is “not only a related factor, it’s the only factor” to explain the jump.
“If you have a sports star like that ... a really local hero, that can really shape more local naming trends to a really dramatic effect, because you’re not seeing Carson in that kind of position anywhere else in the country," she said.
Except in neighboring Delaware, of course, where the number of baby boys given the name has jumped 112 percent since 2015. In New Jersey, the name was No. 77 on the 2018 list after not having appeared previously.
“Think about it like an advertisement,” Berger said in an email. “Just like a Super Bowl advertisement makes people more likely to buy that product, hearing a name repeated many times throughout the broadcast can influence the names people choose for their kids.”
There was no doubt of the connection for a South Philly couple following the birth of their son in January 2018.
“I really liked [the name] Harrison at first, but my boyfriend didn’t love it as much as I did,” Catalina Huynh-Vy, 25, told The Inquirer at the time. “Then watching the season of the Eagles playing, I’m thinking, ‘You know, Carson is doing so great this year, and we’re on a great streak.’ ... I think that’s when I texted my boyfriend. ‘What do you think of Carson?’ ”
Nicholas, meanwhile, has been dropping steadily in popularity, despite the 2018 Super Bowl heroics of former Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles, who was named MVP while playing in place of an injured Wentz. Nicholas fell from No. 44 on the Pennsylvania list in 2015, with 323 baby boys given the name, to No. 55 in 2018, with 246.
Liam and Emma were the most popular boy and girl names for both Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2017 and 2018, while Liam and Ava ranked as tops in Delaware in 2018.
That’s not just a local trend.
Liam and Emma snagged the top spots nationwide in 2018, the Social Security Administration said, the second year in a row for Liam and the fifth consecutive for Emma.
“What’s interesting about naming is that everyone feels like they’re making their choice independently," Berger said, “but when their kid walks into kindergarten many of them have the same name. That’s because name choices are influenced by subtle social influences.”
The annual list “reveals the effect of pop culture on naming trends,” according to the SSA. Influences from royalty and HBO’s Game of Thrones were evident this year, with names like Meghan and Yara rising in popularity.
The alleged Game of Thrones phenomenon is apparently happening in Pennsylvania too.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Hector Morales Rivera, a Pennsylvania resident whose 6-year-old daughter is named Daenerys, told Vulture after the sudden personality shift by the show’s character that shocked fans. “I still love her name, I have very fond memories because of that name, because of how attached I have been to this series.”
While there are no Yara, Khaleesi, or Daenerys on the 2018 lists for popular girls’ names in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware, Arya — also a Game of Thrones character — was found on all three.
Naming a child often comes down to one thing, Redmond Satran said.
“I think the overriding thing that parents today are looking for in their child’s name is meaning," she said. “And you can define that in a lot of different ways, but naming a child after a personal hero ... is a way of maybe second-hand conferring the qualities that you see in that hero on your child.”