The Kit-Cat Story
In 1932, during the height of The Great Depression, the Kit-Cat® Klock was first invented in Oregon by designer Earl Arnault (1904-1971). With his signature wagging tail, rolling eyes, and contagious smile; Kit-Cat inspired joy during one of America’s roughest patches.
In the 1930s, the Allied Clock Company was founded in Portland Oregon to manufacture these uniquely animated pendulum clocks. The earliest clocks, produced in 1932, had no markings on the back. Most of these early models have metal bodies, metal clock hands and four toes on each of the two paws. They also had starter knobs or apertures on the front to “start” the motor spinning in the correct direction when it was plugged in, because “self-starting” motors were not widely used in clocks in the 30s. Allied Clock soon adopted the increasingly popular method of plastic molding and moved to Seattle, WA.
40s and 50s
The 40s and 50s were decades of explosive growth for Kit-Cat’s popularity and marked the first (and last) changes in his design. The top paws and the Kit-Cat’s dapper bow tie were added. Due to his popularity, it wasn’t long before Kit-Cat became synonymous with the 1950s in America.
In 1962, Allied Clock moved production to Southern California and renamed itself the California Clock Company. In 1982, the owner of the California Clock Company convinced Ohio native and serial entrepreneur Woody Young to take over as President/Owner and keep Kit-Cat going strong into the new millennium.
But in the late 1980′s, the American Made legacy of Kit-Cat was almost lost! In the span of a few years, American electric motor manufacturing was almost exclusively relocated to Asia, leaving Kit-Cat without a US motor supplier. A battery motor powerful enough to move Kit-Cat’s exclusive “one-second” animation had yet to be invented. With no other alternative, the California Clock Company was driven to develop a new battery technology.
Kit-Cat kept on ticking through the 90s when the first Limited Color Edition Kit-Cats began to be manufactured, including the first 3/4 size Kitty Cat which was introduced in 1996. It wasn’t long before Lady Kit-Cat first burst on to the scene in 2001, swapping out the bow tie for pearls and eyelashes.
2007 marked Kit-Cat’s 75th anniversary, and was celebrated with The Great All American Road Show which lasted 75 days along the entire Route 66. “We were wanting to do something special for the 75th anniversary of an American icon,” said Woody Young, President of the California Clock Company. Kit-Cat Klocks are made on Route 66 just outside of Los Angeles so it seemed like a perfect fit. The Great All American Road Show included the world’s largest Kit Cat Klock at 75 inches tall and a 75-year-old Ford Deuce, specially painted to celebrate the clock which participated in 75 events across the country including parades and car shows.
2012 marked Kit-Cat’s 80th anniversary, 50 years manufacturing all of their clocks in California, and 30 years with Woody Young as President. To celebrate this milestone, Kit-Cat sponsored the only 100% US grown commercial float in the 2012 Pasadena Rose Parade.
After 85 years, Kit-Cat continues to prove that he is truly “timeless” as Kit-Cat Klocks are now sold through stores in countries all around the world. In fact, for the last 50 years, someone has purchased a Kit-Cat Klock every 3 minutes.