Mystery baby name: Marquita (Solved!)

The characters Marquita and Chris from a TV commercial for Close-Up toothpaste (1983).
Marquita and Chris from Close-Up TV commercial

Adilene isn’t the only ’80s baby name I can’t figure out. I’m stumped on Marquita as well.

In 1983, thousands of baby girls were suddenly given the name Marquita:

  • 1985: 535 baby girls named Marquita [rank: 417th]
  • 1984: 1,374 baby girls named Marquita [rank: 195th]
  • 1983: 2,543 baby girls named Marquita [rank: 112th]
  • 1982: 128 baby girls named Marquita
  • 1981: 135 baby girls named Marquita

Hundreds more were given a variant spelling of the name:

Marquita (f)1282,5431,374535
Marquita (m).20**..
*Debut (overall), **Gender-specific debut

Marquita was out of the top 1,000 again by the mid-1990s.

The spike seems to have been centered in the South. The states with the most babies named Marquita in 1983 were…

  1. Georgia – 218 babies named Marquita
  2. Texas – 195 babies named Marquita
  3. North Carolina – 176 babies named Marquita
  4. Mississippi – 170 babies named Marquita
  5. Louisiana – 168 babies named Marquita
  6. Florida – 162 babies named Marquita
  7. Illinois – 161 babies named Marquita
  8. Alabama – 145 babies named Marquita
  9. California – 123 babies named Marquita
  10. Virginia – 112 babies named Marquita

The spike wasn’t caused by Marquita Rivera. And I don’t think either Marquita Pool-Eckert (at that time Marquita Pool) or Marquita Lister were popular enough to have caused it.

Any ideas?

Screenshot of a TV commercial for Close-Up toothpaste (1983).
Close-Up TV commercial

Update, 7/25/2021: Commenter Marquitta I. has solved the mystery! (Thank you so much!)

The sudden interest in the baby name Marquita was sparked by a TV commercial for Close-Up toothpaste. The commercial features (actors playing) a young African-American couple named Marquita (pronounced mahr-KEE-tah) and Chris.

They spend the 30 seconds talking about one another (and the toothpaste, of course) so viewers hear Chris say Marquita’s name several times: “When I hold Marquita, it really warms me up.” “Marquita’s teeth are white, straight, and make her smile beautiful.” “When I kiss Marquita, it tastes fresh.”

Here’s the commercial:

P.S. I’ve since found similar Close-Up commercials featuring couples with the names Gail & Grant, Cliff & Tina, and Desiree & Rob.

9 thoughts on “Mystery baby name: Marquita (Solved!)

  1. Did Marquita Pool appear on-camera, or was she behind the scenes only? I ask because she won two producing Emmys in 1983, and one of them was for a segment about African-American issues. If she was on camera during a popular TV news program, it might have bumped awareness of the name up enough to make the lists.

    If she was just a name in the credits, I agree that’s likely not enough.


  2. I imagine she was behind the scenes only, though I’m not 100% sure.

    One thing that I didn’t mention was that the magazine Black Enterprise printed her name her several times in 1982 and 1983. This could be significant, as several baby names have seen increased usage thanks to being mentioned in Af-Am magazines (e.g. Jet, Ebony)…though I doubt Black Enterprise had the pull of Jet or Ebony at that time.

  3. @Marquita Henry – Thank you for the comment! Do you happen to remember the brand or toothpaste, or anything at all about the commercial? Any details would be greatly appreciated!

  4. @Nancy Man it was a Colgate commercial and the model’s name was Marquita. I remember my mother telling me about it. I’ve been trying to find footage of the advert ever since!

  5. My mother told me she got my name from a commercial as well. But she said a soap commercial. She had a different name for me but a relative used the name for their daughter born 6 months before me. I was born in 1983 as many other Marquitta’s.

  6. Marquitta I., you found it! That’s amazing!

    Thank you so much for coming back and commenting with the link!

    I can totally see now why people might have remembered the brand as “Colgate” when really it was “Close Up.”

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