You will not find any LemonJellos in Malaysia

As reported by the BBC, Malaysia has banned “unsuitable” first names. An excerpt from the article:

Parents will not be able to call their babies after animals, insects, fruit, vegetables or colours.

Numbers are also not allowed, so little James Bonds cannot flaunt their 007 status on their ID cards.

Other restrictions stop parents giving children royal or honorary titles as names or calling their little ones after Japanese cars.

The most amusing part of the link, actually, is not to the article itself, but to the list of other BBC articles under “see also” in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage. It seems the Malaysian government has been quite busy handing out bans recently: no botox for Malaysian muslims, no suicides in movies, no plays mentioning “Volkswagen,” no lesbian kissing on screen, and a warning to tourists about kissing in public.

By the way, we are still looking for OrangeJello and LemonJello. Despite many good leads, we have not found them. If you know how to find them, please contact Dubner and Levitt. There is a small gift for you if you lead us to them.

(Thanks to Amitabh Chandra for the BBC link.)


Snopes lists a "Mark Lemonjello" as "a pitcher for the Houston Astros in the 1970s." A google search for M.L. doesn't bring up many hits, but does make it seem he existed - weird!


That is toooooo funny. I can't believe they would need to ban those names... who would name their child Celery, 007, Banana, Mosquito, Yellow... and what's so bad about doing that!?? (other than devastating the child when he/she begins school)


The original BBC article never claims that a single Malaysian actually sought to name a child "007" -- only that numerical names are now banned, so 007 -- if it came up -- would not be allowed. The article is accompanied by a photo of Sean Connery as James Bond, and there are several 007 references, but no evidence that such a name is anything more than a example dreamed up by the author to make Malaysians look silly.


The French also officially practice name-banning, and a prostitute in Italy cannot call herself Maria.


I was just writing about this on my blog...
and it was funny because the article made me think of freakonomics and then I come here and I've been beaten to it.
This malaysian paper's take on people who already have these names is worth a look.


Huh! I'm from Malaysia and I haven't heard of such a restriction on names. Some of them (the suicide and lesbian kisses in film) are due to a conservative censorship board...and it's not like they've been handing out bans recently, many of the bans were already there.

Though I am a bit concerned about how this post sounds like it's picking on Malaysia. Like no other country does it too.


I heard of OrangeJello and LemonJello from a teacher in upstate New York well before your book came out. While it is certainly possible she was repeating a story she heard elsewhere, I will follow up to see if she can provide some more concrete information.


upstate new york is it. buffalo, to be exact. an ex of mine's mother taught the twins in elementary school. and a friend of mine from high school, also a teacher, has them a few years ago.

check southside elementary.


here's a way to attract people named lemonjello -

a local newspaper in hyderabad once held a tambola competition for people named tabassum i.e only if your name was tabassum , and you had a copy of the times of india , could you participate in the tambola.the competition was free , and also provided a chance for tabussums to meet each other.
i hope this helps


Haven't found any real Lemonjellos or Orangellos yet, but there are a number of Jellos listed in the SSDI (Social Security Death Index)!

Go to
and enter JELLO for the first name.

Name Birth Death Last Residence Last Benefit SSN Issued
JELLO SHERIFF 15 May 1890 Jan 1969 04005 (Biddeford, York, ME) (none specified) 007-01-8819 Maine
JELLO DAVIS 07 Sep 1903 Jan 1969 22732 (Radiant, Madison, VA) (none specified) 235-03-8237 West Virginia
JELLO PASCHAL 24 Jan 1907 Feb 1982 29924 (Hampton, Hampton, SC) (none specified) 249-52-0063 South Carolina
JELLO SANDLIN 05 Sep 1904 Nov 1975 31520 (Brunswick, Glynn, GA) (none specified) 260-14-4841 Georgia
JELLO PARDON 27 Mar 1916 15 Mar 1998 (V) 44052 (Lorain, Lorain, OH) (none specified) 293-12-5560 Ohio
JELLO MARKS 08 Sep 1919 03 Mar 1995 48458 (Mount Morris, Genesee, MI) (none specified) 417-12-7848 Alabama
JELLO A BLALOCK 09 Oct 1912 22 May 2002 (V) 36078 (Tallassee, Elmore, AL) (none specified) 419-24-2334 Alabama
JELLO MANLEY 09 Jul 1920 17 Jun 1996 (V) 60653 (Chicago, Cook, IL) (none specified) 428-36-7940 Mississippi
JELLO S WILSON 26 Jun 1908 11 Aug 1994 79701 (Midland, Midland, TX) (none specified) 465-22-0972 Texas

(V)=(Verified) Report verified with a family member or someone acting on behalf of a family member.

Couldn't use wildcards in the search, alas.

"ORAN" is apparently a not-unheard-of first name; there are an amazing 3367 in the SSDI! One has a surname that sounds something like "Jello":
ORAN B JOLLEY 18 Jul 1915 07 Feb 1996 76031 (Cleburne, Johnson, TX) (none specified) 458-01-4718 Texas

If you shorten this and look for first name ORA and last name (Metaphone search) Jello, there are a bunch. Here's one:
ORA N GILL 16 Jun 1926 25 Mar 1999 (V) 39501 (Gulfport, Harrison, MS) (none specified) 427-38-7977 Mississippi

Some of the ORANs have the middle initial "J". A few have last names starting with "EL" or "AL" or "L":
ORAN J ELSWICK 05 Feb 1924 10 Nov 1988 23462 (Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach City, VA) (none specified) 233-44-0822 West Virginia
ORAN J ALLAN 22 Mar 1909 03 Apr 1991 (not specified) (none specified) 263-14-1785 Florida
ORAN J LOGAN 27 Mar 1918 20 Jun 2002 (V) 79712 (Midland, Midland, TX) (none specified) 452-24-7893 Texas

There are these too:
ORAN J WILLMON 25 Jun 1924 10 Feb 1993 35768 (Scottsboro, Jackson, AL) (none specified) 423-18-0093 Alabama
ORAN J VON ELM 29 Dec 1909 29 Dec 1994 78227 (San Antonio, Bexar, TX) (none specified) 440-09-8657 Oklahoma
ORAN J WYLAND 06 Jul 1933 07 Aug 1985 (VA) (none specified) 485-38-4350 Iowa
ORAN J VERTREES 12 Sep 1922 18 Dec 1996 (V) 84067 (Roy, Weber, UT) (none specified) 545-28-3174 California

ORAN J BROWN 18 Mar 1906 04 May 1990 (not specified) (none specified) 445-05-6299 Oklahoma
ORAN J OLIVE 17 Mar 1917 06 Jun 1993 77521 (Baytown, Harris, TX) (none specified) 461-18-1115 Texas

And the best (is the first pronounced "orangerie"?):
ORAN J GARRIE 02 Dec 1921 29 Aug 1993 70542 (Gueydan, Vermilion, LA) (none specified) 439-05-5047 Louisiana
ORAN J GUICE 21 Sep 1929 08 Nov 1970 (VA) (none specified) 466-36-3393 Texas
ORAN J TITTLE 16 Jan 1906 20 Jul 1993 93901 (Salinas, Monterey, CA) (none specified) 553-01-7457 California
ORAN J CENTER 09 Jul 1924 08 Jul 1996 (V) 97415 (Brookings, Curry, OR) (none specified) 536-16-6780 Washington
ORAN J CENTER 21 Jun 1953 22 Jan 2003 50702 (Waterloo, Black Hawk, IA) (none specified) 559-82-2718 California

Jello BLALOCK, eh? Any relation to actress Jolene BLALOCK?

"LEMON" also shows up as a first name (963 in the SSDI), and three have surnames that sound something like "Jello":
LEMON GILL 31 Aug 1879 Sep 1969 26421 (Pullman, Ritchie, WV) (none specified) 233-26-5253 West Virginia
LEMON JOLLY 22 Oct 1889 Jun 1963 (Oklahoma) (none specified) 440-20-6985 Oklahoma
LEMON A JOLLY 27 Aug 1925 01 May 2005 (V) 74402 (Muskogee, Muskogee, OK) (none specified) 444-22-8597 Oklahoma

There are 14(!!!) "Lemon J."s, including these two:
LEMON J ELLISON 13 Sep 1915 08 Aug 1989 43204 (Columbus, Franklin, OH) (none specified) 271-14-1384 Ohio
LEMON J POOL 20 Feb 1916 19 Feb 1985 94124 (San Francisco, San Francisco, CA) (none specified) 457-24-1687 Texas

Now, the SSDI only covers dead people who were registered for Social Security. People who never had SSNs or who are still alive would not be listed there.

There is a family with the surname JELLO, most of whom got their SSNs in CT. To determine whether the urban legend is really true, then I'd suggest contacting the descendants of this JELLO family. Perhaps one of the daughters used JELLO as part of a child's first name and is still alive. There are two JELLOs listed at, neither of them with listed descendants, so try a phone book search... There are 11 people with the surname JELLO in the online Bell White Pages.



I first came upon the names LemonJello and OrangeJello, with the funny pronunciations, some 15 years ago, as characters in one of Dan Jenkins' football novels. Jenkins is probably best known for his novel, Semi-Tough, but that is only one in a series of his entertaining, hilarious (and politically incorrect) sports fiction novels. Sports fans will also recognize Jenkins as a regular contributor to Golf Digest magazine, and a former writer for Sports Illustrated. I strongly suspect these two names are products of Jenkins' inventive imagination.

martin rosenbaum

In Britain the police have released a list of first names of criminals in Liverpool. You can read more here:


I also used the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and found three Orangelos. One of them was born in 1895, 2 years before Orange Jell-o was introduced.

I also found a wide variety of fruit and garden-veggie names, although I suppose it is important to note that the SSDI does not necessarily show someone's birth name.

I have yet to hear any convincing tales of a real LemonJello and OrangeJello, though.


A few countries have a register of permissible first names. Switzerland and France come to mind. Also, doesn't the Catholic church require that you name your children after a saint?


The pitchers name was Mark Lemongello (with a g, not a j). He was an starting pitcher - he went 22-38 in 1976-79 for Houston and Toronto


To dilbert69 (#15) - I was raised Catholic and my name is Diana, not a saint's name. I have never heard that the Catholic Church required parents to name a child after a saint. When a young person takes a name at Confirmation (at about 13 years old) the Confirmation name is a saint's name however. (My Confirmation name is Elizabeth.)


Lemonjello and Orangejello are bad enough, but pity the kid named Blue Raspberry...


whoa..da laws r reasonable..
dont u feel dat da kids will feel embarassed when they grow up having the name dats so nonsense..??
n the other banned things are necessary..
it is required to keep up the good moral in malaysia. (btw,i'm malaysian)


In the movie Fletch Lives, Irwin M. "Fletch" Fletcher has an assumed alias named Peter Lemonjello. That's all I could find


My wife has a colleague who's name is Lou Mongello. He's published at least one book (in front of me) so it should be easy to verify his name.