Retro Kit-Cat Clocks in Modern Pantone Colors
What happens when two timeless American design trends collide? This! Witness a classic slice of Americana, the 1930s Kit-Cat Clock, painted in Pantone colors to reflect the cultural zeitgeist of today. Get one!
I’m sure I’m biased, as I like (and like to write about) cats and color. And I’m not evangelizing in ignorance, as I just posted this parody of Pantone mania. But I started to make the Pantone-slash-Kit-Cat-Clock-swatch infographics below, and, well, the whole thing just made me feel happy. So I ran with it.
Kit-Cat Clocks remind me of the 80s because that’s when I guess I first saw them, but in fact they date back to The Great Depression. Earl Arnault invented the Kit-Cat Clock in 1932.
With his signature wagging tail, rolling eyes, and contagious smile; Kit-Cat inspired joy during one of America’s darkest hours.
The first 1930s Kit-Cat Clocks were welded with metal, but Allied Clock Company soon adopted plastic molding and moved from Portland to Seattle.
The Kit-Cat Clock got its top paws and bow tie in the early 50s. Allied Clock moved to Southern California in the 60s and became the California Clock Company. Then, a disruption!
But in the late 80s, 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.
The 90s saw the first limited edition color Kit-Cats, followed by the pretty Lady Kit-Cat in 2010. There are now bedazzled and bejeweled Kit-Cat Clocks and DIY Kit-Cats with custom-colored tail attachments.
Kit-Cat turns a formidable 81 years old this year and boasts a statistic your iClock cannot: Every 3 minutes, for the past 50 years, someone has purchased a Kit-Cat Clock. And now that statistic includes me. (Gee, I wonder what color I bought?)
Classic Kit-Cat Clocks are on sale now in ladies and gentlemen’s versions in Pantone and other colors here. Click through for a few more graphics I made to delight my fellow cat and color lovers. This post was fun to write, the photos were lovely to look at, and perhaps we all learned a little something about American design in the process. Cheers to cat clocks!