|Alton Brown hosting Cutthroat Kitchen, courtesy of Food Network|
A few months ago we started getting a new free-to-air TV channel from SBS called Food Network. From what I can tell, much of it's content is from the American cable channel of the same name, with a good helping of our own local cooking programs. It immediately became regular viewing in my house, and means we have only recently been introduced to some faces that have been familiar to Americans for years.
One such person is host Alton Brown, as seen on 'Cutthroat Kitchen', 'Good Eats' and 'Iron Chef America'. While I am familiar with similar sounding Elton, Alton was a new discovery. He was even missed when I did this mega list of names that Ton could be a nickname for!
Alton comes from the Old English word Aldtun, meaning 'old town'. Both Elton and Alston are thought to be related, although they actually seem to have different meanings which suggests they are separate names rather than different versions or variations of Alton. Like many "town" names, Alton would have been used as a surname to denote where a family was from before it became commonly used as a first name.
I hadn't heard Alton until recently but was very familiar with the name Elton (thanks to Elton John, Jane Austen's 'Emma' and the movie 'Clueless'). Therefore I kind of assumed that Elton must be the more popular choice, and Alton must be relatively rare. I was kind of right in one regard - Alton is a fairly rare name. Currently. Alton was actually a top 500 name in America for almost a century, dropping out of the top 1000 in 1999. I was wrong on the other count though - Alton is more popular than Elton, and in 2014 was given to almost 100 more boys than Elton was, ranking as the 1155th most popular name in the U.S. Seems Alton just needs better publicity ☺
Which seems silly to say considering there are a large number of towns named Alton in the U.S, U.K and Canada; and a number of famous faces with this name. Unfortunately one of those famous people includes Alton Coleman, who was executed in 2002 for a killing spree he committed in 1984. Possibly he is the reason why this name fell so far out of favour during this period. That shouldn't stop people from using it though.
I think Brown is the main reason I like this name. He's quite witty and intelligent with a wickedly fun sense of humour, so it's now hard for me not to associate these qualities with this name. It also feels somewhat "English" prep with a little hint of American Southern style, a combination I'm quite fond of. It may seem a bit quirky, but he's got the history to back him up. Alton could make a great off-beat yet not strange choice for a modern boy.