It started with a baked snack. Flipping through a newspaper earlier this summer, I saw a photo of a dog looking at his reflection in a puddle. His name from him? flapjack. Shortly after, my friend called me to tell me about her recent engagement: her partner proposed to me by attaching a ring to a small bag around the neck of her cat, Oat. Her other cat is named Prune. On vacation, doing the typical dog lover thing and sharing pet photos with another tourist, I was shown pictures of an adorable pup named Fig. Then I saw a plea on social media from an animal shelter trying to find a home for an abandoned animal young dog. He was called Truffle. A pattern was emerging.
According to a 2022 database survey from pet store Rosewood Pet, Honey ranked No. 1 as the most popular food-related pet name, with a mix of sweet and salty names making up the rest of the top 10. main. Rolo came in second, followed by Cookie, Pepper, Fudge, Oreo, Pickles, Pumpkin, Biscuit, and finally Peaches at No. 10. An Animal Friends Pet Insurance database of 17,000 names found that Honey and Cookie again took the top spot. first place, but the longer list (with 82 food names—related names in all) showed that pet owners were getting a bit more adventurous.
Among the list, microtrends are beginning to appear. Names like Muffin, Toffee, Treacle, Jaffa, Waffle, and Fudge indicate a preference for super-sweet foods, like the loving Cupcake. But there was also a plethora of savory options, perhaps based on people’s favorite snacks, like Nacho, Peanut, Noodles, Chilli, Spud and Nugget. Some more classic British names like Crumpet, Custard and Crumble made it into the top 100, as did Wotsit. There were some artisan options like Mochi, Tofu and Saffron. Soft drinks also stood out, including Pepsi and Cola.
As with most trends, it has also spread on social networks. On TikTok, I found posts featuring cute little ducklings named Mushroom, Paella, and Halloumi and half a dozen posts (totaling 570,000 total views) suggesting cute and weird food names for dogs, cats, or other pets (including Bean, Curry and Gravy). ).
A call on Twitter found that even more pet owners jumped on the trend. There was a hamster named Pancake, two Tacos, a cat named Malai (which translates to “cream” in owner Sidra’s native Urdu/Gujarati), as well as Sushi and Tahini (both cats). Dog trainer and sitter Sarah said she noticed that many of her clients also went for foodie names, as she did with her own dog, Meatball.
Sofia is the proud owner of two black cats. “Gnocchi was named after her because I come from an Italian background and always wanted to have pets named after pasta.” A week after receiving Gnocchi, her mother came home with a surprise: a little tuxedo kitten she named Kimchi. “I think I chose the name because my mom likes Korean food and I thought she was cute.”
Ben’s dachshund is named Frankie Furter. He explains: “When we went to cast him, he was by far the longest puppy there was. My wife absolutely loves hotdogs and insists we try one every time we travel. So based on his looks and his love of hot dogs, it was the perfect choice for a name.”
Tianna was inspired by delicious Jamaican foods and ingredients when naming her cats. “We have Plantain,” he says, and when Plantain had kittens, he followed suit, naming the babies Scotch Bonnet (after hot chili pepper), Bammy (bread made from cassava flour), Cho Cho (a fruit used as a vegetable in Jamaican cuisine) and sweet potato.
Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor at the University of British Columbia and the author of numerous books and dozens of articles on dogs, also spotted the rise in food names and wrote about it in an article for psychology today. So what motivates us to name our pets and what is the thinking behind these trends? According to Dr. Coren, it all boils down to the fact that we see our pets as part of the family, so we treat them a bit like babies or children. “It is common to use personalized nicknames for family members, especially children, and this can include food names. For example, a child can be referred to as Cookie, Biscuit, or Honey. My own daughter is nicknamed Pumpkin. A colleague of mine in Montreal refers to his daughter as my cabbage which translates to my little cabbage.”
Obviously, people can be more carefree and informal when it comes to naming pets, so while kids get “proper names,” pets allow an outlet for more informal “labels or inside jokes,” he explains. In Coren’s research, she has also seen that while a dog may be given a more formal name (Dancer or Odin), owners will often go back to calling their pet by gourmet nicknames.
Isabel Ludick, director of marketing for Pet Keen, has also noted the prevalence of gourmet pet names these days, but for her, it goes back decades. “My grandmother used to name all of her dogs after herbs and spices, pepper, cinnamon or basil, etc., but she has definitely become more and more popular as the modern food scene becomes more interesting. . My grandmother would probably never have thought of naming her pet Sushi or Tofu, but in 2022 it’s all the rage.” Ludick has seen examples of a kitten named Boba (after Taiwanese milk tea made with tapioca) and a Chihuahua named Jellybean among the more unusual choices.
As for what drives him, he says it’s simple. “People enjoy trends, and it’s no different when it comes to naming pets after food.” It makes sense—both our pets and the food we eat are such integral parts of our lives and families—it’s perhaps no wonder people are putting two things they love together.
If you are thinking of having a pet, visit rspca.org.uk/findapet to find your own prune or potato