One of the coolest things yet on the blog: A working Kit-Cat clock! In celebration of the 80th anniversary of this American icon, I connected with the nice folks at the California Clock Company — the sole manufacturers of the Kit-Cat Clock — and they gave me the pieces to make my own little online eyes-moving, tail-wagging Kit-Cat clock. I have named him Englebert. Happy birthday, K-C, you don’t look a day over 21! Seriously, the Kit-Cat clock has an illustrious past — and a remarkable present — including the dedication of the company’s owner to keep it Made in the USA. Read on for more about the fabulous Kit-Cat clock.
Made in the USA — for 80 years
One of the things that I learned in my conversation with the California Clock Company, is that the only changes to Kit-Cat clock in the past few decades have come when various component manufacturers started moving their production overseas. But Woody Young, the owner of the company, did not want such a famous piece of Americana to have made-in-Wherever parts — he wanted everything Made in the USA (with occasional exceptions, such as the special-edition clocks made with Austrian crystals.) So, there have been some redesigns to the internals to make sure the company could get all the parts here. That is: They spent money — they went the extra mile — to keep the jobs in America. Wow. The Kit-Cat clock continues to be super popular today — not only in the U.S. but also all around the world. An export! There’s even a fan club and a Kit-Cat® Creed:
Put a smile on everyone’s face;
Love in everyone’s heart;
Energy in everyone’s body;
and Be a positive force in everyone’s life!
History and how to date of a vintage Kit-Cat clock
The Kit-Cat clock was born in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. And while it’s had some minor modifications over the years, it’s pretty much the same swingin’ cat. The Kit-Cat history page is excellent at providing info about marks and features that can help you date a vintage clock (tip: Dinner and a movie are always appropriate.) Here’s just a tidbit:
If the back of the clock states “Portland, OR” it is late 30’s.
If the back of the clock states “Seattle, WA” it was made in the 40’s if it is a metal back.
If the back of the clock states “Seattle, WA” with a plastic back and no front paws it was made in the early 50’s.
If the back of the clock states “Seattle, WA” with a plastic back and has front paws it was made mid to late 50’s.
The bow tie was added about 1954.
etc….see the website.
You can buy new Kit-Cat clocks today straight from the California Clock Company. They come in a large number of colors, and the company comes out with several special editions every year. There are also upgrades — like a Kit-Cat with a football helmet — oh, and increasingly, they have sports team colors on the clocks, too. Hmmm, Father’s Day is coming up, this gives me an idea.