By Matt McCue
Updated March 28, 2014
Credit: © iStockphoto

Food trends come and go but names last forever. In recent years, some unsuspecting folks with the name Kale have found themselves aligned with a certain fashionable vegetable. What’s it like to share the spotlight with the hottest green in the world? We called some Kales to find out.

Rodney Kale, Marina Owner, North Carolina

Have you jumped on the trend? Believe it or not, we planted flowering kale at our house long before it was chic. It’s like putting a sign on the front door with your last name.

Do you get recognized more in public?

Even in the past two years, it’s amazing the number of people who look down at my name and call me “Mr. Cali” or “Mr. Kay-lee.” They somehow see it as a last name and think it has a whole other way of being pronounced.

Pat Kale, Writer, Massachusetts

Ever met another Kale? There are a lot of people with the last name Kale, and it always surprises me. My neighbor’s son’s first name is Kale.

Do you like the taste of kale?
I do. I make a great Tuscan soup with kale.

We’ve heard people sometimes have trouble pronouncing it. Ever happen to you? It happens all the time. I get “Kay-hill” a lot, but I’d rather have that name than Carrot or Broccoli.

Sharon Kale, Flight Attendant, Florida

We’re guessing that when you go out to eat, people love to make a joke about your name being on the menu. Got any stock replies?

My son in Chicago always says, “I don’t eat my own kind.”

How do you feel about your namesake? I really don’t like it that much, unless it’s blended in a smoothie. I ordered a kale salad once and it went on for days.

Have you ever met another Kale? I once picked my eye doctor because his name was Kale. He looked just like my husband’s dad and I tried to find out if we were somehow related, but we weren’t.

One unexpected discovery in our reporting is that Americans seem to have great difficulty pronouncing kale. Do you have such a story?

My maiden name is Van Schniedts, so I thought Kale was going to be easy, but I still have to tell people how to spell it: “No, it’s not K-a-o-l-e. It’s K-a-l-e.”

Cale Lehman, High School Senior, Iowa

Technically, your name is spelled differently than the vegetable, but you’re currently attending my alma mater and my mom is your teacher, so I feel like the gods have smiled upon us and we should just go with it anyway. That OK with you? Yeah.

Cool. Before we get to the kale talk, though, I want to ask you a personal question: Does my mom give too much homework, not enough homework or just the right amount? Just the right amount.

Smart answer. I will tell her you deserve an A. Now, how do you feel about kale? I don’t really know too much about it other than it’s like lettuce. I think my mom bought it once for a salad—it was alright.

Do people ever butcher the pronunciation of your name?

Sometimes people will call me “Cal.” It’s kind of hard to pronounce.

I don’t know, I think you’re giving people way too much credit. Where does the name come from?

My dad said he named me after Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Cale Gundy.

Wow, that goes back to the early 1990s. So your dad has Oklahoma football ties?

No, he just liked the name.