Flickr photo by Ezyan Y.
The two most popular boy and girl baby names in the country are now the names of lead characters in the Twilight book and movie series -- Jacob and Isabella. While we love to tout the power of pop culture, this may not be much more than coincidence.
As powerful as Twilight has proved to be in other areas of life, Jacob has held the top spot for 11 years running, before the four-part book series was a glimmer in Stephenie Meyer's publisher's eyes, and Isabella has always ranked high on the list, possibly pushed up with help from vampire-mania, but not taking total credit.
The real shocker from the Social Security Administration, which released its list of top baby names for 2009 -- the most recent year available -- was Cullen as the fastest-rising boy name.
For those of you who've been living on another planet, under a rock, or, I don't know, just not browsing bookstores, watching TV, reading magazines, or going to the movies much, Edward Cullen is the name of the James Dean-looking, six-foot-four, velvet-tongued, J.Crew-dressing vampire, the object of lust of nearly every teen-aged girl (and all their moms and grandmothers and some of their fathers) in the Western Hemisphere. Okay, really, the whole Earth. So, as far as the image it creates, it's a pretty good boy name. Lots better than Melvin.
In the span of one year, Cullen climbed from 782 to 485 in the rankings. I don't see any of the other "Cullen" family names ever going that far. Let's take a look at where they rank now:
Carlisle (not even ranked in the top 1,000 for the past 10 years)
Edward (ranked 137, actually dropping in popularity)
Esme (not even ranked in the top 1,000 for the past 10 years)
Jasper (ranked 337)
Alice (ranked 258)
Emmett (ranked 332, a 200-point jump from 2008)
Rosalie (ranked 840)
Which one gets your vote for the NEXT fastest-climbing Twilight baby name?