Delicious Baby Names: Benedict, Reuben & Ruth

Delicious Baby Names: Benedict, Reuben & Ruth

By John Kelly

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin famously named their daughter Apple. Courtney Cox and David Arquette named theirs Coco. You may not have a taste for naming your baby after foods, but you might just savor these nine foods named after people.


Fettuccine Alfredo is a rich dish with a rich history. Roman chef Alfredo Di Lelio first prepared this pasta in 1914 for his wife, it’s said, who craved some milder flavors during pregnancy. Alfredo’s dish spread abroad – taking his name with it.

Alfredo is the Italian form of Alfred, served up from the Old English Ælfræ__d, “elf counsel,” as elves were historically associated with wisdom. While only the 587th most popular name in the US in 2015, Italians still love it: It ranked #161 that year.


Poached eggs, Canadian bacon, hollandaise sauce, English muffins, and heaping of competing origin stories? It’s Eggs Benedict.

One story credits Charles Ranhofer, chef of New York’s legendary Delmonico’s restaurant, concocting the dish in the 1860s for a regular, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict. Another, from Lemuel Benedict, claiming he asked a Waldorf Hotel chef to whip it up in 1894 to help him cure a hangover. A third theory traces it to 18th-century Pope Benedict XIII, who apparently ate a strict diet of poached eggs and toast. Whoever cooked the dish up, the name Benedict is indeed popular with popes. It comes from the Latin benedictus, “blessed.” And probably as boosted by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, the name has jumped in recent popularity, now up to #341 on Nameberry.


On July 4, 1924, Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini’s Tijuana restaurant was jam-packed. Low on food, Caesar cobbled together some romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, a piquant dressing, and voila: the Caesar salad. Or so the story goes.

Caesar is fitting for a top salad, calling up Roman emperor Julius Caesar. This powerful Latin family name may literally have meant “long-haired.” As the 803rd most popular boy’s name on Nameberry, the classical Caesar might be a fresh idea for your baby boy.   Streamlined spelling Cesar is on the national list at #280.


If you don’t eat meat and consume lots of fiber, preached 19th-century American minister Sylvester Graham, you’ll be less lustful. And so he proselytized vegetarianism, including eating a bread made with unsifted wheat flour. Graham crackers, originally baked with the kind of flour he advocated, are a nod to the diet-thumper.

Graham, an old Scottish surname, might come from the place-name Grantham, meaning “gravelly homestead.” Its long history aside, Graham remains a cracking boy’s name, coming in at #176 and 71 on Nameberry.


Nestle says the Oh Henry! chocolate bar got its name in 1920 from a young boy, Henry, who liked to flirt with girls who worked at the Williamson Candy Company, the original maker of the candy. The ladies sent off their callow courtier on errands. “Oh, Henry,” they’d call, “will you do this for me?” Oh, Nestle: This story might just be too good to be true.

Unwrapping the name Henry, we find it comes from the German Heimerich, “the ruler of the house.” Henry rules the name house as well: It’s currently at #29, highest ranking since 1941.


A few decades after northern and southern Italy unified, legend has it, Queen Margherita went to Naples in 1889 on a goodwill visit. She asked for famed pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to cook up some pizzas. One pie comprised tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil – red, white, and green, the colors of the Italian flag. The queen loved it, and Esposito gave it her name.

The name Margherita – as well as Margarita and Margaret – comes from the Greek for “pearl.” Margherita is the most distinctive of the three.


The Biblical name Reuben comes from the Hebrew for “he saw a son.” As for the diner staple sandwich? Its history is as deliciously messy as the sandwich itself. Many suspect the first Reuben was created for a Charlie Chaplin co-star in 1914 at New York’s famous Reuben’s Delicatessen, owned by Arnold Reuben. Another account traces its invention to Omaha, Nebraska in the 1920-30s by Reuben Kulakofsky for weekly poker games at the Blackstone Hotel, which put it on its menu. The sandwich may be an American original, but the name Reuben been much more popular in England (#51) and Northern Ireland (#44) than the US (#881) as of 2015.


Who is the Ruth of the Baby Ruth candy bar? Some say she’s the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, who once visited the original confectioner, the Curtiss Candy Company. But Ruth Cleveland passed away in 1904, well before the candy bar first hit the shelves in 1921, just as Babe Ruth was slugging away. It’s possible the Curtiss company capitalized on the Babe Ruth sensation with Baby Ruth – and hatched the Ruth Cleveland narrative for copyright cover. Ruth, a Biblical name from the Hebrew for “friend,” may sound old-fashioned to some, but the name is on the rise, already up to #293.