The Introduction of Tristaca

tristaca, advertisement, baby name, 1977
Photo of “Tristaca” writing to “Debbera”

Here’s a name with a unique story: Tristaca. It appeared in the SSA’s baby name data for just two years, 1977 and 1978.

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: 11 baby girls named Tristaca
  • 1977: 11 baby girls named Tristaca
  • 1976: unlisted

The similar name Tristica also popped up, but in 1977 only.

Where did these names come from?

An eye-catching advertisement for Christian Children’s Fund that ran in newspapers and major magazines (Newsweek, Time, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Vogue, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parents’ Magazine, Psychology Today, etc.) in 1977 and 1978.

The top of the ad featured two photos: one of an impoverished child named Tristaca, the other of a Western woman named Debbera. Below Tristaca’s photo was a letter to Debbera (“My school report is very satisfactory”), and below Debbera’s photo was a letter to Tristaca (“I’m looking forward to the holidays now — hope to do a lot of skiing this winter”).

Check out how the ad copy kept repeating their names:

Tristaca and Debbera, though they’ve never even met, share a very special love. Tristaca lived in extreme poverty. Her mother has tried to support her family herself, but she can only get menial jobs that pay almost nothing.

Tristaca was a girl without any hopes, without any dreams. Then Debbera Drake came into her life.

Christian Children’s Fund was well known for their television commercials during that era, so a TV version of this advertisement might have existed as well, though I can’t find any evidence of it so far.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Tristaca?

P.S. The oddly spelled Debbera did not see a corresponding uptick in usage while the ad was out. Deborah-based names had been very trendy in the ’50s, so no doubt they sounded relatively passé by the later ’70s.

3 thoughts on “The Introduction of Tristaca

  1. I think it sounds like tristesse (the name Tristan has the same issue), but maybe it was chosen by the designers of the add for exactly that reason.

  2. The name reminds me of Triscuit crackers . . . so no. But it does make me wonder how many children have been named after name brand food products? Have any children been named Pepsi or Jiff or similar names? You’ve addressed Charmin and several perfumes (probably more that I’m unaware of) but there must be at least a few food brand names too.

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