EASTON - Three-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell is cute, cuddly and, for now, blissfully unaware of the shock value conveyed by his first and middle names. That may be changing, though.
The youngster was at the center of a recent dispute between his parents and a local supermarket that refused to spell out his name on a cake for his birthday party last weekend. A story in a local newspaper prompted an outpouring of angry online responses directed at Heath Campbell, 35, and his wife Deborah, 25.
"I think people need to take their heads out of the cloud they've been in and start focusing on the future and not on the past," Heath Campbell said this week in an interview conducted on the other side of the Delaware River from where the family lives in Hunterdon County, N.J.
"There's a new president and he says it's time for a change; well, then it's time for a change," he continued. "They need to accept a name. A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did."
Deborah Campbell said she phoned in her cake order last week to the ShopRite in Greenwich, just east of downtown Phillipsburg on the western edge of New Jersey. When she told the bakery department she wanted her son's name spelled out, she was told to talk to a supervisor, who denied the request.
Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, said the Campbells had similar requests denied at the same store the last two years and said Heath Campbell previously had asked for a swastika to be included in the decoration.
"We reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate," Meleta said. "We considered this inappropriate."
The Campbells ultimately got their cake inscribed at a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania, Deborah Campbell said. About 12 people attended the birthday party on Sunday, including several children who were of mixed race, according to Heath Campbell.
"If we're so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?" he asked.
The Campbells' other two children also have unusual names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns 2 in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be 1 in April.
Heath Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because "no one else in the world would have that name." He sounded surprised by all the controversy the dispute had generated.
Campbell said his ancestors are German and that he has lived his entire life in Hunterdon County. On Tuesday he wore a pair of black boots he said were worn by a German soldier during World War II.
He said he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically either. But he said he would try to raise his children differently.
"Say he grows up and hangs out with black people. That's fine, I don't really care," he said. "That's his choice."