Joseph Pedott, 91, Dies; Made Chia Pets an ‘as Seen on TV’ Sensation

Joseph Peddot, the man whose decades-long commercials for the bizarre plant-like dolls known as “Cheer Pets” have catapulted them into the American consumer culture hall of fame, was announced in San Francisco on June 22. died. he was 91 years old.

Family friend Sherry Ettleson said the cause was cardiac arrest.

The Chia Pet’s popularity can be traced back to March 1977. Meanwhile, Mr. Pedot (pronounced peadot), an independent advertising executive, is roaming Chicago’s home and home goods trade shows looking for new customers. He asked the sales manager at drugstore chain Thrifty about his company’s best-selling products.

“He said, ‘There’s this stupid product called Chiapet. I don’t understand why anyone would buy it,'” Pedot later said. remembered.

The sales executive faxed Mr. Pedot a picture of the stupid product in question. It was a terracotta figurine manufactured in Oaxaca, Mexico and sold with a chia seed spread. After a week or two of watering, hairy grass grew from the seeds.

No matter how bizarre chia pets looked, Peddot, unlike sales executives, didn’t judge whether consumers liked chia pets. He decided that the only thing Chia Pets lacked was him, and it was good advertising.

He purchased the rights from its importer, a man named Walter Houston. He got a more lucrative contract from a Mexican manufacturer. And by the early 1980s, he began widely promoting his new products with a jingle consisting of a woman’s breathy voice shouting “chuck-chuck-cheer!”

The campaign worked. In 2018, Peddot’s company, Joseph Enterprises, announced Americans have purchased about 25 million chia pets. Tens of millions more people who have never owned a chia pet had a vivid perception of what a chia pet was, but not as a real-life object, but as a half-real world imagination on television. bottom.

The advertisement referred to Chiapets as “growing pottery.” Was that great promotion for gag gifts or home décor? Chiapet somehow managed to do both, as did another infomercial bauble, Bigmouth Billy Bass. Bigmouth Billy Bass is a wall hanging that is also a talking fish.

Chia Pet’s long-standing competitors include other inanimate objects sold as pets. Most notably Pet Rock, a ventilated box with stones on straw, and Tamagotchi, a handheld digital pet. The first was from the 1970s and the second was from the 1990s.

Perhaps thanks to its quasi-botanical organicity, chia pets have held onto a much tighter hold of popular affection, as evidenced by the fact that they have become metaphors for a surprisingly wide range of human activities.

New York Times critic Roberta Smith explained 1992 engraving by Jeff Koons “puppy” as “a shaggy dog ​​made entirely of flowers and the largest chia pet ever”. Chia pets have come to be compared to hairstyles, and the term has been associated with 1990s New York Knicks power forward Charles Oakley, rebel former House Democrat James A. Used to represent Ben Affleck’s hairstyle in Argo (2012) and Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle” (2013). The uncontrollable growth of chia pet hair inspired Times columnist Maureen Dowd to write about “a strange independent lawyer who grows like a chia pet” in 1998 when President Bill Clinton was impeached. .

rock band called They themselves were Chia Pet, and even more amazingly, the novelists used it as their character’s name.

As a barometer of fame, getting a chia pet modeled after you has become far more rare than getting your own bobblehead. Honorable figures include Willie Nelson, Bob Ross, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and others. This is an equally exclusive club for fictional characters such as Scooby his Doo, Chewbacca, Bugs his Bunny, Bart his Simpsons.

As the ultimate symbol of victory, chia pets have come to be recognized more than the chia seeds themselves. The New York Times wrote in 2012, “First there were chia pets. Now chia has a second life as a nutritious ‘it’ item.”

Peddot had another notable success with the Clapper, which he launched in the mid-1980s. This allows you to turn household items on and off by clapping, anticipating the modern age of controlling front doors, refrigerators and thermostats with your mobile phone.

The Clapper didn’t become as much of a pop culture phenomenon as the Cheer Pet, and it sold about as much, but it certainly served as the inspiration for the slogan. “Applause, applause” It joins Chia Pet Jingle as a haunting part of late 20th century televised ballyhoo.

2019, the era of advertising Asked We asked Peddot to share the secrets of memorable advertising.

“We just stayed with it,” he said. “‘Cha-cha-cha'” Repetition is effective. ”

Joseph Pedot was born on April 14, 1932 in Chicago to Meyer Pedot, an Army and Veterans Administration physician, and Gene (Segal) Pedot, a housewife. Joe’s mother died of a brain hemorrhage when he was 13 years old. He and his father often quarreled, so Joe ran away from home when he was 16 and moved to his YMCA.

The Chicago nonprofit Scholarship and Guidance helped him with his living expenses, working as a switchboard and selling women’s shoes to pay for his studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. .

“You can’t be poorer than me,” he said Said told the university in a 2018 interview. “There were no scholarships or loans back then. My tuition was $64 a semester. My hourly wage was 65 cents.”

He and classmates wrote and produced commercials for local businesses in Chicago, and after Mr. Peddot graduated in 1955 with a degree in journalism, they founded their own advertising agency. That partnership soon fell apart, and Mr. Peddot moved to San Francisco. He spent the rest of his life there.

When the old man took his assets and founded a non-profit organization worth He donated more than $9 million to SGA Youth & Family Services, the new name for the Chicago nonprofit that helped him in his youth, and to Jewish causes, most notably Hillel’s Student Organization.he sold Joseph Enterprises was acquired in 2018 by the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, known for licensing consumer goods.

Mr. Peddot never married. He is left with his longtime partner, Carol Katz. he died in the hospital.

Chiapet is sometimes said to be a product of a past culture that has now become a thug. Noting the “overwhelming embarrassment of anyone who stumbles upon a chia pet in the attic,” Times reporters described the middle-class’s recent past as “everybody sitting in a bean bag chair and just looking.” I imagine it’s an era where I was just there. I drank the “Love Boat” and drank tang as my chia pet grew up. ”

But Chiapets’ current executives describe the product as unexpectedly attractive, even prophetic. They make chiapets that represent Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. To find out who will win the 2012 and his 2016 races, simply research Chia Pet’s sales.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button