This month we have learned of the sad demise of Michele Ferrero, the Italian inventor of Nutella, the tasty chocolate spread that both Apprentice Man and Little Girl would always try to add to my supermarket trolley when they were young enough to find grocery shopping an adventure.
It has also been reported that a French court has refused to allow parents to name their daughter Nutella. Some might regard that as a victory for common sense; others as unwarranted interference by the state.
I was surprised to learn that a country which I have long associated with liberty should have a law that essentially restricts free choice in the naming of one’s child. Here in the UK our laws relating to the registration of births are far more liberal and generally only names deemed offensive would be prohibited.
However, it seems that fortunately most parents are sensible and the selection of offbeat names is reserved for the offspring of certain celebrities. So last year Sophia, Emma and Olivia topped the list of most popular girls’ names and there was not a Nutella, Marmite or Plum Jam in sight.
Imagine however the ambiguity that would arise were it ever to become common to designate sandwich fillings as children’s names. “Don’t forget Peanut Butter,” could have all manner of hidden consequences and were the idea of using spreads as names to catch on, it presumably would not be long before we would find both Wide and Bed in the front row of the Reception Class too.