States have official songs and birds and trees. So how about quirky favorite baby names?
It turns out that certain names, rare in the US, are over-represented in certain states. Our intrepid researcher looked at every name given to at least 100 babies in 2015. Then he calculated the percentage of babies with that name born in every state. When ranked, the results revealed the unusual baby names most concentrated in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Some of these are easily explained. A hundred baby boys were named Brigham in 2015, 23 of them in Utah. Less than 1 percent of all Americans live in Utah, so that's 23 times higher than you might expect. But, of course, Brigham Young was an early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Utah, so it’s not a surprise.
Jordy, the boys’ favorite in Wisconsin, is a nod to Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson, while Ohio’s quirky favorite girls’ name Bexley and Colorado’s Aspen are inspired by upscale towns in those states.
Yiddish names Shimon and Faigy are the quirky favorites in New York, where there's the largest concentration of Hasidic Jews, while Spanish names Santana and Estevan are favored in New Mexico and Hawaiian names Kalea and Keanu are popular in, boom!, Hawaii.
And it does make sense that nature names Wren and Wilder are the quirky favorites of rural Vermont, while nouveau names Oakleigh and Bridger are well-liked in red state Montana, consistent with our analysis that discovered that red staters prefer gender-neutral invented names while blue state baby names are more likely to pick names that are ethnic and traditional.
Other standouts are harder to explain. Why is Ophelia so prominent in Alaska? Or Brecken in Iowa?
These maps display the quirky favorite names for every state.
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And here are all the quirky favorites by state: